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Down the Danube from Buda-Pest — Amusements on board the 
steamer — Basiash — Drive to Oravicza by Weisskirchen — 
Ladies of Oravicza— Gipsy music — Finding an old school- 
fellow — The czardas . . . . .1 


Consequences of trying to buy a horse — An expedition into 
Servia — Fine scenery — The peasants of New Moldova — 
Szechenyi road — Geology of the defile of Kasan — Crossing 
the Danube — Milanovacz — Drive to Maidenpek — Fearful 
storm in the mountains — Miserable quarters for the night 
— Extent of this storm — The disastrous effects of the same 
storm at Buda-Pest — Great loss of life . . .15 


Maidenpek — Well-to-do condition of Servians — Lady Mary 
Wortley Montague's journey through Servia — Troubles 
in Bulgaria — Communists at Negotin — Copper mines — 
Forest ride — Robbers on the road — Kucainia — Belo-breska 
— Across the Danube — Detention at customhouse — Weiss- 
kirchen — Sleeping Wallacks . . . .33 


Variety of races in Hungary — Wallacks or Roumains — Statistics 
— Savage outbreak of the Wallacks in former years — 
Panslavic ideas — Roumanians and their origin — Priests 
of the Greek Church — Destruction of forests — Spirit of 
Communism — Incendiary fires . . . .46 



Paraffine- works in Oravicza — Gold mine — Coal mine3 at Auima- 
Steirdorf — Geology — States Railway Company's mines — 
Bribery . . . . . . .54 


Mineral wealth of the Banat — Wild ride to Dognacska — 
Equipment for a riding tour — An afternoon nap and its 
consequences — Copper mines — Self-help — Rare insects — 
Moravicza — Rare minerals — Deutsch Bogsan — Reschitza . 58 


Election at Oravicza — Officialism — Reforms — Society — Ride to 
Szaszka — Fine views — Drenkova — Character of the Serbs 
— Svenica — Rough night walk through the forest . .70 


Hospitable welcome at Uibanya — Excursion to the Servian side 
of the Danube — Ascent of the Stierberg — Bivouac in the 
woods — Magnificent views towards the Balkans — Fourteen 
eagles disturbed — Wallack dance . . . .83 


A hunting expedition proposed — Drive from Uibanya to 
Orsova — Oriental aspect of the market-place — Cserna 
Valley — Hercules-Bad, Mehadia — Post-office mistakes — 
Drive to Karansebes — Rough customers en route — Law- 
lessness — Fair at Karansebes — Podolian cattle — Ferocious 
dogs ........ 90 


Post-office at Karansebes — Good headquarters for a sports- 
man — Preparations for a week in the mountains — The 
party starting for the hunt — Adventures by the way — 
Fine trees— Game — Hut in the forest — Beauty of the 
scenery in the Southern Carpathians . . .104 



Chamois and bear hunting — First battue — Luxurious dinner 
5000 feet above the sea-level — Storm in the night — 
Discomforts — The bear's supper — The eagle's breakfast — 
Second and third day's shooting — Baking a friend as a 
cure for fever — Striking camp — View into Eoumania . 118 


Back at Mehadia — Troubles about a carriage — An unexpected 
night on the road — Return to Karansebes — On horseback 
through the Iron Gate Pass — Varhely, the ancient capital 
of Dacia — Roman remains — Beauty of the Hatszeg Valley 131 


Hungarian hospitality — Wallack laziness — Fishing — " Settled 
gipsies " — Anecdote — Old regime — Fire — Old Roman 
bath — The avifauna of Transylvania — Fly-fishing . 140 


On horseback to Petroseny — A new town — Valuable coal- 
fields — Killing fish with dynamite and poison — Singular 
manner of repairing roads — Hungarian patriotism — Story 
of Hunyadi Janos — Intrusion of the Moslems into Europe 152 


Hunting for a guide — School statistics — Old times — Over the 
mountains to Herrmannstadt — Night in the open — Nearly 
setting the forest on fire — Orlat . . . .160 


Herrmannstadt — Saxon immigrants — Museum — Places of 
interest in the neighbourhood — The fortress-churches — 
Heltau— The Rothen Thurm Pass — Turkish incursions . 173 



Magyar intolerance of the German — Patriotic revival of the 
Magyar language — Ride from Herrmannstadt to Kron- 
stadt — The village of Zeiden — Curious scene in church — 
Reformation in Transylvania — Political bitterness between 
Saxons and Magyars in 1848 . . . .184 


Political difficulties — Impatient criticism of foreigners — 
Hungary has everything to do — Tenant-farmers wanted — 
Wages ....... 195 


Want of progress amongst the Saxons — The Burzenland — Kron- 
stadt — Mixed character of its inhabitants — Szeklers — 
General Bern's campaign ..... 199 


TheTomoscher Pass — Projected railway from Kronstadt to 
Bucharest — Visit to the cavalry barracks at Rosenau — 
Terzburg Pass — Dr Daubeny on the extinct volcanoes of 
Hungary — Professor Judd on mineral deposits . . 209 


A ride through Szeklerland — Warnings about robbers — Buk- 
sad — A look at the sulphur deposits on Mount Budos — A 
lonely lake — An invitation to Tusnad . . .219 


The baths of Tusnad — The state of affairs before 1848 — In- 
equality of taxation — Reform — The existing land laws — 
Communal property — Complete registration of titles to 
estates — Question of entail ..... 232 



Fine scenery in Szeklerland — Csik Szent Marton — Absence of 
inns — The Szekler's love of lawsuits— Csik Szereda — Hos- 
pitality along the road — Wallack atrocities in 1848 — The 
Wallacks not Panslavists . . . . .243 


Ride to Szent Domokos — Difficulty about quarters — Interesting 
host — Jewish question in Hungary — Taxation — Financial 
matters ....... 252 


Copper mine of Balanbanya — Miners in the wine-shop — Ride 
to St Miklos — Visit to an Armenian family — Capture of 
a robber — Cold ride to the baths of Borsek . . 260 


Moldavian frontier — Tolgyes — Excitement about robbers — 
Attempt at extortion — A ride over the mountains — Return 
to St Miklos ...... 275 


Toplicza — Armenian hospitality — A bear-hunt — A ride over to 
the frontier of Bukovina — Destruction of timber — Mal- 
administration of State property — An unpleasant night on 
the mountain — Snowstorm .... 282 


Visits at Transylvanian chateaux — Society — Dogs — Amuse- 
ments at Klausenburg — Magyar poets — Count Istvan 
Szechenyi — Baron Eotvos — 'The Village Notary' — Hun- 
garian self-criticism — Literary taste . . .291 


A visit at Schloss B National characteristics — Robber 

stories — Origin of the " poor lads " — Audacity of the rob- 
bers — Anecdote of Deak and the housebreaker— Romantic 
story of a robber chief ..... 302 



Return to Buda-Pest — All-Souls' Day — The cemetery — Secret 
burial of Count Louis Battliyanyi — High rate of mortality 
at Buda-Pest . . . . . .315 


Skating — Death and funeral of Deak — Deak's policy — Uneasi- 
ness about the rise of the Danube — Great excitement about 
inundations — The capital in danger— Night scene on the 
embankment — Firing the danger-signal — The great calam- 
ity averted ....... 321 


Results of the Danube inundations — State of things at Baja — 
Terrible condition of New Pest — Injuries sustained by the 
island garden of St. Marguerite — Charity organisation . 335 


Expedition to the Marmaros Mountains— Railways in Hungary 
— The train stopping for a rest — The Alfold — Shepherds 
of the plain — Wild appearance of the Rusniacks— Slavs 
of Northern Hungary — Marmaros Szigeth — Difficulty in 
slinging a hammock — The Jews of Karasconfalu — Soda 
manufactory at Boeska — Romantic scenery — Salt mines — 
Subterranean lake ...... 339 


The Tokay district —Visit at Schloss G Wild-boar hunt- 
ing — Incidents of the chase .... 355 


Tokay vineyards — The vine-grower's difficulties — Geology of 

the Hegyalia — The Pope's compliment to the wine of 

Tallya — Towns of the Hegyalia — Farming — System of 
wages at harvest — The different sorts of Tokay wine . 364 

Map of the Banat and Transylvania ivith Mr Crosse's route. 



Down the Danube from Buda-Pest — Amusements on board the 
steamer — Basiash — Drive to Oravicza by Weisskirchen — Ladies 
of Oravicza —Gipsy music — Finding an old schoolfellow — The 

One glorious morning in June 1875, I, with the 
true holiday feeling at heart, for the world was all 
before me, stepped on board the Kustchuk steamer 
at Buda-Pest, intending to go down the Danube as 
far as Basiash. 

Your express traveller, whose aim it is to get to 
the other end of everywhere in the shortest possible 
time, will take the train instead of the boat to Basi- 
ash, and there catch up the steamer, saving fully 
twelve hours on the way. This time the man in 
a hurry is not so far wrong ; the Danube between 
Buda-Pest and the defile of Kasan is almost devoid 
of what the regular tourist would call respectable 
scenery. There are few objects of interest, except 
the mighty river itself. 


Now the steamer has its advantages over the train, 
for surely nowhere in this locomotive world can a 
man more thoroughly enjoy "sweetly doing nothing" 
than on board one of these river-boats. You are 
wafted swiftly onward through pure air and sun- 
shine ; you have an armchair under the awning ; 
of course an amusing French novel ; besides, truth 
to say, there is plenty to amuse you on board. Once 
past Vienna, your moorings are cut from the old 
familiar West ; the costumes, the faces, the architec- 
ture, and even the way of not doing things, have 
all a flavour of the East. 

What a hotch-potch of races, so to speak, all in 
one boat, but ready to do anything rather than pull 
together ; even here, between stem and stern of our 
Danube steamer, are Magyars, Germans, Servians, 
Croats, Roumanians, Jews, and gipsies. They are all 
unsatisfied people with aspirations ; no two are agreed 
— everybody wants something else down here, and 
how Heaven is to grant all the prayers of those who 
have the grace to pray, or how otherwise to settle 
the Eastern Question, I will not pretend to say. 

Meanwhile the world amuses itself — I mean the 
microcosm on board the steamer : people, ladies 
not excepted, play cards, drink coffee, and smoke, 
There is a good opportunity of studying the latest 
Parisian fashions, as worn by Roumanian belles ; 


they know how to dress, do those handsome girls 
from Bucharest. 

When steam navigation was first established on 
the Danube, as long ago as 1830, Prince Demidoff 
remarked, that " in making the Danube one of the 
great commercial highways of the world, steam had 
united the East with the West." It was a smart 
saying, but it was not a thing accomplished when 
the Prince wrote his Travels, nor is it now ; for 
though the " Danube Steam Navigation Company " 
have been running their boats for nearly half a 
century, they are in difficulties, " chiefly/' says Mr 
Eevy, 1 "from the neglect of all river improvements 
between Vienna and Buda-Pest, and between Basiash 
and Turn-Severin." He goes on to say that the 
dearest interests of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy 
are involved in the rectification of the course of the 
Danube, recommending a Eoyal Commission to be 
appointed. Those who follow the course of the 
river may see for themselves how little has been 
done, and how much remains to be done before it 
can be safely reckoned one of the great commer- 
cial highways of the w^orld. 

We had started from Buda-Pest on Monday morn- 
ing at seven o'clock, and arrived at Basiash at nine 

1 The Danube at Buda-Pest. Keport addressed to Count Andrassy 
by J. J. Revy, C.E. 1876. 


the following morning. We were fortunate in not 
having been detained anywhere by shallow water, so 
often the cause of delay by this route. 

Up to the present time Basiash is the terminus of 
the railway ; it is a depot for coal brought from the 
interior, and though not out of its teens, is a place 
fast growing into importance. 

As my object was to get to Oravicza in the Banat, 
I had done with the steamboat, and intended taking 
the rail to my destination ; but, in the " general 
cussedness " of things, there turned out to be no 
train till the evening. I did not at all enjoy the 
prospect of knocking about the whole day amongst 
coal-sheds and unfinished houses, with the alterna- 
tive refuge of the inn, which was swarming with 
flies and redolent of many evil smells ; so I thought 
I would find some conveyance and drive over, foi 
the distance was not great. If there is anything I hate, 
it is waiting the livelong day for a railway train. 

There chanced to be an intelligent native close b] 
who divined my thoughts, for I had certainly no 
uttered them ; he came up, touched me on the arm, 
and pointed round the corner. Notwithstanding th 
intense heat of the day, the Wallack, for such h 
was, wore an enormous sheepskin cloak with th< 
wool outside, as though ready for an Arctic winter 
I followed him a few steps to see what he wanted m< 


to look at; the movement was quite enough, he 
regarded it evidently in the light of ready assent, and 
in the twinkling of an eye he possessed himself of 
my portmanteau and other belongings, motioned me 
to follow him, which I did, and then found that my 
Heaven-sent friend had a machine for hire. 

I call it a machine, because it was not like 
anything on wheels I had seen before : later on 
I became familiar enough with the carts of the 
country ; they are long - bodied, rough construc- 
tions, wonderfully adapted to the uneven roads. In 
this case there were four horses abreast, which sounds 
imposing, as any four-in-hand must always do. 

I now asked the Wallack in German if he could 
drive me to Oravicza, for I saw he had made up 
his mind to drive me somewhere. To my relief I 
found he could speak German, at all events a few 
words. He replied he could drive the " high and 
nobly born Excellency " there in four hours. The 
time was one thing, but the charge was quite 
another affair. His demand was so outrageous 
that I supposed it was an implied compliment to 
my exalted rank : certainly it had no adequate 
reference to the services offered. The fellow asked 
enough to buy the whole concern outright — cart 
and four horses ! They were the smallest horses 
I almost ever saw, and were further reduced by the 


nearest shave of being absolute skeletons ; the 
narrow line between sustaining life and actual 
starvation must have been nicely calculated. 

We now entered upon the bargaining phase, a 
process which threatened to last some time ; all the 
stragglers in the place assisted at the conference, 
taking a patriotic interest in their own countryman. 
The matter was finally adjusted by the Wallack 
agreeing to take a sixth part of the original sum. 

Seated on a bundle of hay, with my things 
around me, I was now quite ready for the start, 
but the driver had a great many last words with 
the public, which the interest in our proceedings 
had gathered about us. Presently with an air of 
triumph he took his seat, gave a loud crack or two 
with his whip, and off we started at a good 
swinging trot, just to show what his team could 

We took the road to Weisskirchen, leaving the 
Danube in the rear. The country was fairly pretty, 
but nothing remarkable ; fine scenery under the 
circumstances would have been quite superfluous, 
for the dust was two feet deep in the road, and 
the heels of four horses scampering along raised 
such a cloud of it that we could see next to 

We had not proceeded far when the speed 


sensibly relaxed ; I fancy the horses went slower 
that they might listen to what the driver had to 
say, he talked to them the whole time. He was 
not communicative to me ; his knowledge of 
German seemed limited to the bargaining process, 
a lesson often repeated, I suspect. As time wore 
on the heat became almost tropical ; as for the 
dust, I felt as if I had swallowed a sandbank, 
and was joyful at the near prospect of quench- 
ing my thirst at Weisskirchen, now visible in the 

Hungarian towns look like overgrown villages 
that have never made up their minds seriously to 
become towns. The houses are mostly of one 
story, standing each one alone, with the gable-end, 
blank and windowless, towards the road. This is 
probably a relic of Orientalism. 

Getting up full speed as we approached the town, 
we clattered noisily over the crown of the causeway, 
and suddenly making a sharp turn, found ourselves 
in the courtyard of the inn. 

I inquired how long we were to remain here; 
" A small half-hour," was the driver s answer. This 
was my first experience of a Wallack's idea of time, 
if indeed they have any ideas on the subject beyond 
the rising and the setting of the sun. 

I strolled about the place, but there was not 


much to be done in the time, and I got very tired 
of waiting: the "half -hour" was anything but 
" small ; " however, one must be somewhere, and in 
Hungary waiting comes a good deal into the day's 
work. I was rather afraid my Wallack was 
indulging too freely in slivovitz — otherwise plum- 
brandy — a special weakness of theirs ; but after an 
intolerable delay we got off at last. 

Soon after leaving the town we came upon an 
encampment of gipsies ; their tents looked pictur- 
esque enough in the distance, but on nearer 
approach the illusion was entirely dispelled. In 
appearance they were little better than savages ; 
children even of ten years of age, lean, mop-headed 
creatures, were to be seen running about absolutely 
naked. As Mark Twain said, " they wore nothing 
but a smile/' but the smile was a grimace to try 
to extract coppers from the traveller. Two miles 
farther on we came upon fourteen carts of gipsies, 
as wild a crew as one could meet all the world 
over. Some of the men struck me as handsome, but 
with a single exception the women were terribly 
unkempt-looking creatures. 

It was fully six o'clock before we reached Ora- 
vicza; the drive of twenty-five miles had taken 
eight hours instead of four, as the Wallack had 
profanely promised. 


We entered the town with a feeble attempt at a 
trot, but the poor brutes of horses were dead beat, 
and neither the pressure of public opinion nor the 
suggestive cracking of the driver's whip could 
arouse them to becoming activity. 

Oravicza is very prettily situated on rising 
ground, and the long winding street, extending 
more than two miles, turns with the valley. 
Crawling along against collar the whole way, I 
thought the street would never end. There are 
very few Magyar inhabitants in this place, which 
is pretty equally divided between Germans and 
Wallacks ; the lower part of the town belongs to the 
latter, and is known as Eoman Oravicza, in dis- 
tinction to Deutsch Oravicza. The population is 
altogether about seven thousand. 

I fancy not many strangers pass this way, for 
never was a shy Englishman so stared at as this 
dust-begrimmed traveller. I became painfully self- 
conscious of the generally disreputable appearance 
of my cart and horses, the driver and myself, when 
two remarkably pretty girls tripped by, casting 
upon me well-bred but amused glances. All the 
womenkind of Oravicza must have turned out at 
this particular hour, for I had hardly passed 
the sisters with the arched eyebrows, when I came 
upon another group of young ladies, who were 


laughing and talking together. I think they grew 
merrier as I approached, and I am quite sure I 
was hotter than 1 had been all day. " Confound 
the fellow ! can't he turn into an innyard — any- 
where out of the main street?" thought I, giving 
my driver a poke. He knew perfectly well where 
he was about to take me, and no significant gestures 
of mine hastened him forward in the very least. 
Presently, without any warning, we did turn into 
a side opening, but so suddenly that the whole 
vehicle had a wrench, and the two hind wheels 
jolted over a high kerbstone. Meanwhile the 
group of damsels were still in close confab, and I 
could see took note that the stranger had descended 
at the Krone. We were all in a heap in the 
courtyard, but we had to extricate ourselves as 
best we could, for not a soul was to be seen, 
though we had made noise enough certainly to 
announce our arrival. 

I pulled repeatedly at the bell before I could 
rouse the haushnecht, and induce him to make an 
appearance. At length he deigned to emerge from 
the recesses of the dirty interior. Having dis- 
charged the Wallack in a satisfied frame of mind 
(he had the best of the bargain after all), I was at 
leisure to follow mine host to inspect the accom- 
modation he had to offer me. A sanitary commis- 


sioner would have condemned it, but en voyage 
comme en voyage. With some difficulty and delay 
I procured water enough to fill the pie-dish that 
did duty for the washing apparatus. I had an old 
relative of extremely Low Church proclivities who 
was always repeating — for my edification, I suppose 
— that " man is but dust ;" the dear old lady would 
have said so in very truth if she had seen me on 
this occasion. 

After supper I strolled into the summer theatre, 
a simple erection, consisting of a stage at the 
end of a pretty, shady garden. Seats and tables 
were placed under the lime-trees, and here the happy 
people of Oravicza enjoy their amusements in the 
fresh air, drinking coffee and eating ices. Think 
of the luxury of fresh air, ye frequenters of 
London theatres ! 

The evening was already advanced, the tables 
were well filled ; groups gathered here and there, 
sauntering under the greenery, gay with lanterns ; 
and many a blue-eyed maiden was there, with 
looks coquettish yet demure, as German maidens 
are wont to appear. 

A concert was going on, and I for the first time 
heard a gipsy band. Music is an instinct with 
these Hungarian gipsies. They play by ear, and 
with a marvellous precision, not surpassed by musi- 


cians who have been subject to the most careful 
training. Their principal instruments are the violin, 
the violoncello, and a sort of zither. The airs they 
play are most frequently compositions of their own, 
and are in character quite peculiar, though favourite 
pieces from Wagner and other composers are also 
given by them with great effect. I heard on this 
occasion one of the gipsy airs which made an in- 
delible impression on my mind ; it seemed to me 
the thrilling utterance of a people's history. There 
was the low wail of sorrow, of troubled passionate 
grief, stirring the heart to restlessness, then the 
sense of turmoil and defeat ; but upon this 
breaks suddenly a wild burst of exultation, of 
rapturous joy — a triumph achieved, which hurries 
you along with it in resistless sympathy. The 
excitable Hungarians can literally become in- 
toxicated with this music — and no wonder. You 
cannot reason upon it, or explain it, but its strains 
compel you to sensations of despair and joy, of 
exultation and excitement, as though under the 
influence of some potent charm. 

I strolled leisurely back to the inn, beneath the 
starlit heavens. The outline of the mountains was 
clearly marked in the distance, and in the fore- 
ground quaint gable-ends mixed themselves up 
with the shadows and the trees — a pretty picture, 


prettier than anything one can see by the light of 
" common day." 

The following morning I set about making in- 
quiries respecting the mines which I knew existed 
in the neighbourhood of Oravicza. I found that 
an English gentleman owned a gold mine in the 
immediate vicinity, and that he was then living in 
the town. This induced me to go off at once to 
call upon him, and I was immediately received in 
a very friendly manner. This accidental meeting 
was rather curious, for on comparing notes we 
found that we had been schoolfellows together 

at Westminster. H being my senior, we 

had not known each other well ; but meeting here 
in the wilds, we were as old familiar friends. 

H kindly insisted on my leaving the inn and 

taking up my quarters with him in his bachelor 
residence, which was in fact big enough to accommo- 
date a whole form of Westminster boys. I was not 
at all sorry to avoid a second night at the Krone, and 
gladly fell into my friend's hospitable arrangements. 

I was in great luck altogether, for that very 
evening a dance was to come off at Oravicza, and 
my friend invited me to accompany him. Dancing 
is one of the sins I compound for ; moreover, I had 
a lively recollection of the bright eyes I had 
encountered yesterday. 


Oravicza is a central place, in a way the chief 
town of the Banat. It has a pleasant little society, 
composed of the families of the officials, and of the 
military stationed there ; they are mostly German 
by origin. Amongst the belles of the evening I 
soon discovered my merry critics of yesterday. I 
was duly presented, and we laughed together over 
my "first appearance." It was one of the 
pleasantest evenings I ever remember. I hate long 
invitations to anything agreeable ; this party, for 
instance, - had the charm of unexpectedness. If 
unfortunately I should prove not quite good enough 
to go to heaven, I think it would be very pleasant 
to stop at Oravicza — supposing, of course, that my 
friends all stopped there as well. 

Here I first danced the czardas ; it is an epoch 
in a man's life, but you must see it, feel it, dance it, 
and, above all, hear the gipsy music that inspires 
it. This is the national dance of the Hungarians, 
favoured by prince and peasant alike. The figures 
are very varied, and represent the progress of a 
courtship where the lady is coy, and now retreats 
and now advances ; her partner manifests his 
despair, she yields her hand, and then the couple 
whirl off together to the most entrancing tones of 
wild music, such as St. Anthony himself could not 
have resisted. 


Consequences of trying to buy a horse — An expedition into Servia 
— Fine scenery — The peasants of New Moldova — Szechenyi 
road — Geology of the defile of Kasan — Crossing the Danube — 
Milanovacz — Drive to Maidenpek — Fearful storm in the 
mountains — Miserable quarters for the night — Extent of this 
storm— The disastrous effects of the same storm at Buda-Pest 
— Great loss of life. 

My friend H is the very impersonation of 

sound practical sense. The next morning he coolly 
broke in upon my raptures over the beauty of 
the Oravicza ladies by saying, "You want to 
buy a horse, don't you 1 " 

Of course I did, but my thoughts were elsewhere 
at the moment, and with some reluctance I took 
my hat and followed my friend to interview a 
Wallack who had heard that I was a likely pur- 
chaser, and brought an animal to show me. It 
would not do at all, and we dismissed him. 

A little later we went out into the town, and I 
thought there was a horse-fair ; I should think we 
met a dozen people at least who came up to accost 
me on the subject of buying a horse. And such a 


collection of animals ! — wild colts from the Pustza 
that had never been ridden at all, and other ancient 
specimens from I know not where, which could never 
be ridden again — old, worn-out roadsters. There 
were two or three good horses, but they were only 
fit for harness. I was so bothered every time I put 
my nose out of doors by applications from persons 
anxious to part with their property in horse-flesh, 
that I wished I had kept my intentions locked in 
my own breast. I was pestered for days about this 
business. There was an old Jew who came regu- 
larly to the house three times a-day to tell me of 
some other paragon that he had found. When he 
saw that it was really of no use, he then com- 
plained loudly that I had wasted his precious time, 
that he had given up every other occupation for the 
sake of finding me a horse. I dismissed this Jew, 
telling him pretty sharply to go about his own 
business for once, adding that nothing should induce 
me to buy a horse in Oravicza. 

One day H informed me that he was going 

over to Servia on a matter of business, and if I 
liked to accompany him, I should see something of 
the country, and perhaps I might find there a horse 
to suit me. The Servian horses are said to be a 
useful breed, strong though small, and very endur- 
ing for a long march. 



1 was very ready for the expedition, so we hired 
a leiterwagen, which is in fact a long cart with 
sides like a ladder, peculiarly suitable for rough 
work. I was much surprised to find the Hun- 
garians far less often in the saddle than I expected ; 
it is true, nobody walks, not even the poorest 
peasant, but they drive, as a rule. 

We started one fine July morning in our machine 
for Moldova on the Danube. The first place we 
came to was Szaszka, a mining village. Close by are 
copper mines and smelting- works belonging to the 
States Railway Company. I was told that they do 
not pay as well as formerly, owing to the fact that 
the ore now being worked is poorer than before ; it 
yields only two per cent, of copper, a very low 
average. Nothing could well exceed the dirt of 
Szaszka ; we merely stopped long enough to feed the 
horses, and were glad to get off again. 

On leaving this place the road immediately begins 
to ascend the mountain, and may be described 
as a sort of pass over a spur of the Carpathians. 
It was a very beautiful drive, favoured as we 
were, too, with fine weather. The road on the 
northern side is even well made, ascending in 
regular zigzags. After gaining the summit, we 
left the post-road that we had hitherto traversed, 
and took our way to the right, descending through 


a forest. The varied foliage was very lovely, and 
the shade afforded us most grateful. It was an 
original notion driving through such a place, for, 
according to my ideas, there was no road at all ; but 
H — — , more accustomed to the country, declared 
it was not so bad, at least he averred that there 
were other roads much worse. The jolting we got 
over the ruts and stones exceeded anything in my 
previous experience. How the cart kept itself 
together was a marvel to me, but it accommo- 
dated itself by a kind of snakelike movement, not 
characteristic of wheeled vehicles in general. Ex- 
cept for the honour and glory of driving, I would 
as lief have walked, and I think have done the 
journey nearly as soon ; but my friend observed, 
" It was no good giving into bad roads down in this 
part of the world." 

At one of the worst turnings we met several 
bullock - carts filled with iron pyrites from the 
copper - smelting. The custom of the drivers of 
these carts is to stop at the bottom of a steep bit 
of hill, and then put five or six pairs of oxen to 
draw up one cart. The process is a slow one, but 
is better for the oxen. We had great difficulty in 
passing in safety, for unluckily at the spot we 
met them the trees were so thick that they literally 
walled up the road, and on the other side there; 


chanced to be a very uninviting precipice, and of 
course we had the place of honour. 

Soon after this little excitement was over we came 
upon a fine view of the Danube, with a long stretch 
of Servian forests beyond. On we jolted, till at 
length New Moldova was reached : this place has 
smelting - furnaces, and in the neighbourhood are 
extensive copper mines. The district is known as 
the Banat of Temesvar, an extensive area of the 
most fertile land in Europe ; rich black soil, 
capable of growing any number of crops in suc- 
cession without dressing. This part of Hungary 
supplies the finest white flour, so much esteemed 
by the Vienna bakers, and now sought after by the 
pastrycooks in England. 

There was a fair going on at New Moldova, 
which afforded me an opportunity of seeing the 
peasants in their gala dresses. The place is re- 
nowned for its pretty Wallack girls, and I certainly 
can bear witness that I saw not a few handsome 
faces. But what struck me most was the graceful 
movements of these damsels : their manner of walk- 
ing was the very poetry of motion. 1 daresay it was 
the more striking to me because I had recently 
come from England, where fashion condemns the 
wearers of high-heeled shoes to a rickety waddle ! 
Even here, in these wilds, fashion maintains a 


despotic rule. I understand black hair is the thing 
at present, so every Wallack maiden dyes her hair 
to the regulation colour, though Nature, who never 
makes a mistake, may have matched her com- 
plexion with auburn locks. 

The costume is very pretty and peculiar; it 
consists of a loose chemise, a short skirt of home- 
spun, with a double apron front and back, formed 
of a very deep thick fringe of various colours. 
This peculiar garment is called an ohreska ; I 
think it has no counterpart in female fashions 
elsewhere. When the under-garment is white and 
fresh the effect is very good ; but in the case of the 
very poor, if there are but scanty rags beneath, 
then, to speak mildly, the fringe is an inefficient 
covering. But to-day every damsel is in her best ; 
and how jauntily she wears the coloured scarf 
twisted round her head, which falls in graceful 
folds ! The Walla cks generally have their bare 
feet covered, not with boots, but with thongs of 
leather, something in the form of a sandal. The 
Servian women dress quite differently, wear tight- 
fitting garments, richly embroidered when their 
means permit. The men also figure largely in 

In the evening the peasants had a dance on the 
open space in front of the czarda, or village inn. 


Of course we were there to look on. I should 
observe that we had arranged to stay the night at 
Moldova, for the afternoon had been taken up in 
visiting a large manufactory for sulphuric acid in 
the neighbourhood. The dance which wound up 
the day's amusements can be easily described. 
" Many a youth and many a maid " form a wide 
circle with arms interlaced, they move round and 
round in a marzurka step to the sound of music. 
It appeared to me rather slow and monotonous. I 
do not know whether the figure breaks up, leaving 
each couple more to their own devices ; but we 
left them still revolving in a circle. 

The following morning we were off on our travels 
again. A short drive took us to Old Moldova, a 
village within the Military Frontier, regularly con- 
structed, with guardhouse and other Government 
buildings, feeing the Danube. At this point begins 
the splendid road by the side of the river, made 
by the Hungarian Government in 1840. It 
reaches as far as Orsova, taking the left bank 
of the Danube. It would have been easier to 
have followed Trajan's lead, and have made 
the road on the right bank ; but there were 
political reasons for deciding otherwise. The 
Hungarian Government, ' as a matter of course, 
would only construct this great work within 


their own territory : the other side of the river 
is Servian. The engineering difficulties in making 
this road were very great, but they have been 
everywhere overcome, and the result is a splendid 
piece of work. 

Arriving at the Danube, we took a steamboat 
that would land us in Milanovacz in Servia. The 
scenery here is magnificent ; we were now in the 
defile of Kasan. The waters of the mighty river 
are contracted within a narrow gorge, which in fact 
cleaves asunder the Carpathian range for a space of 
more than fifty miles. The limestone rock forms a 
precipitous wall on either side, rising in some places 
to an altitude of more than two thousand feet sheer 
from the waters edge. The scenery of this wonder- 
ful pass is very varied ; the bare rock with its 
vertical precipice gives place to a disturbed broken 
mass of cliff and scaur, flung about in every sort of 
fantastic form, or towering aloft like the ruined 
ramparts of some Titan's castle. Over all this a 
luxuriant vegetation has thrown a veil of exceeding 

The fact of the Danube forcing its way through 
the Carpathian chain in this remarkable manner is 
a very interesting problem to the geologists, and 
deserves more careful investigation at their hands 
than perhaps it has yet received. They seem pretty 


well agreed in saying that there must have been a 
time when the waters were bayed back, and when 
the vast Hungarian plain was an inland sea or great 

Professor Hull, in a recent paper on the subject, 1 
states the fact of the plains of Hungary being " over- 
spread by sands, gravels, and a kind of mud called 
loess, or by alluvial deposits underlaid by fresh-water 
limestones, which may be considered as having been 
formed beneath an inland lake, during different 
periods of repletion or partial exhaustion, dating 
downwards from the Miocene period." 

The Professor goes on to say that " at intervals 
along the skirts of the Carpathians, and in more 
central detached situations, volcanoes seem to have 
been in active operation, vomiting forth masses of 
trachytic and basaltic lava, which were sometimes 
mingled with the deposits forming under the waters 
of the lakes. The connection of these great sheets 
of water with these active volcanic eruptions in 
Hungary has been pointed out by the late Dr. 
Daubeny. The gorge of Kasan, and the ridge 
about 700 feet above the present surface of the 
stream, appear to have once barred the passage 
of the river. At this time the waters must have 

1 Hungary and the Lower Danube, by Professor Hull, F.R.S., in 
Dublin University Magazine, March 1874. 


been pent up several hundred feet above the present 
surface, and thus have been thrown back on the 
plains of Hungary. It was only necessary that the 
barrier should be cut through in order to lay dry these 
plains by draining the lakes. This was probably 
effected by the ordinary process of river excavation, 
and partly by the formation of underground channels 
scooped out amongst the limestone rocks of the gorge. 
These two modes of excavation acting together may 
have hastened the lowering of the channel and the 
drainage of the plains above considerably; neverthe- 
less the time required for such a work must have 
been extended, and it would appear that while the 
great inland lakes were being drained, the volcanic 
fires were languishing, and ultimately became extinct. 
Hungary thus presents us with phenomena analogous 
to those which are to be found in the volcanic 
district of Central France." It is a significant fact 
that even at the present day the waters of the 
Platten See and other lakes and swamps are 
diminishing, showing that the draining process is 
still going on. 

The extent of the great lake of prehistoric times 
is forcibly brought before us by the fact that the 
Alfold, or great plain of Hungary, comprises an area 
of 37,400 square miles! Here is found the Tief- 
land, or deep land, so wonderfully fertile that the 


cultivator need only scratch the soil to prepare it 
for his crop. 

As it only took us four hours by steamer to go 
from Alt Moldova to Milanovacz, we calculated that 
we might reach Maidenpek, our destination in 
Servia, the same day by borrowing a few hours 
from the night, as an Irishman would say. How- 
ever, it turned out that there was so much bar- 
gaining and dawdling about at Milanovacz before 
we could settle on a conveyance that we did not 
get away till six o'clock — too late a great deal, 
considering the rough drive we had before us. 
Immediately after starting we began to wind our 
way up the mountain. The views were splendid. 
The Danube at this part again spreads out, having 
the appearance of a lake something like the Ehine 
near Bingen. We looked right over into Tran- 
sylvania and Eoumania from the commanding 
position afforded by the terraced road up which we 
slowly toiled. 

We had hardly gained the highest point when we 
remarked that the sky was becoming rapidly overcast 
by clouds from the west. Our Servian driver swore 
it would not rain ; he knew the signs of the weather, 
he said, but as he applied the whip and galloped his 
horses at every available opportunity, it was clear 
he had an inner consciousness of coming trouble. 


The road now led through a forest. Here and there 
a gap in the thick foliage gave us a glimpse of the 
distant landscape, and of the curious atmospheric 
effects produced by the coming storm. The clouds 
rolled up behind us in dense masses, throwing the 
near mountains into deep\ "shadow, while the plain 
far beneath was flooded with bright sunshine. 

The effect, however, was transitory, for the dark 
shadow soon engulfed the distant plain, blurring 
the fair scene even while we looked upon it 
The change was something marvellous, so sudden 
and so complete. Up to this time the air had been 
still, and very hot; but suddenly a fierce wind came 
upon us with a hoarse roar — almost like the waves 
of the sea — up the valley and over the hill-top it 
came, right down upon us, tearing at the forest- 
trees. The branches, in all the full foliage of leafy 
June, swayed to and fro as the wind went roaring and 
shrieking down the hillside ; the next moment the 
earth shook with the clap of a terrific burst of thunder. 

The horses stood still and shuddered in their 
harness, and it was with difficulty they were made 
to go on. It was evident the storm was right 
over us, for now succeeded flash upon flash of forked 
lightning, with thunder-claps that were instantaneous 
and unceasing. 

At the same time the windows of heaven were 


opened upon us, or rather the sluices of heaven it 
seemed to me ; for the rain descended in sheets, 
not streams, of water. Without any adventitious 
difficulties, the road was as objectionable as a road 
could be ; deep ruts alternated with now a bare bit 
of rock strewn with treacherous loose stones, and 
now a sharp curve with an ugly slant towards the 

About half an hour after the storm first broke 
upon us it had become night, indeed it was so dark 
that we could hardly see a pace in advance. The 
repeated flashes of lightning helped us to make out 
our position from time to time, and we trusted to 
the horses mainly to get us along in the safe middle 
course. At moments when the heavens were lit up, 
I could see the swaying branches of the fir-trees 
high above us battling with the wind, for we were 
still in the forest. The sound of many waters 
around on every side forcibly impressed us with the 
notion that we must be washed away — a result not 
by any means improbable, for the road we traversed 
was little better than a watercourse. 

I have experienced storms in Norway, and in the 
Swiss and Austrian Alps, but I never remember 
anything to equal this outburst of the elements. 

To stop still or to go forward was almost equally 
difficult, but we struggled on somehow at the rate, I 


should think, of a mile and a half in the hour. The 
horses were thoroughly demoralised, as one says of 
defeated troops, and stumbled recklessly at every 
obstacle. The driver was a stupid fellow, without 
an ounce of pluck in his composition, and declared 
more than once that he would not go on, preferring 
to stop under such shelter as the trees afforded. 
We were of another mind, and insisted on his 
pushing on. One of us walked at the horses' heads, 
and thus we splashed and blundered on for three 
mortal hours, wishing all the time that we 
had slept at Milanovacz. The route became so 
much worse that I declared we must have 
missed the track. We were apparently in a 
deep gully, traversed by a mountain torrent hardly 
a foot below the level of our road ; but the 
Servian said he knew we were " all right/' and 
that we should come directly to a house where 
we could get shelter. 

He had hardly spoken when H descried 

some lights not very far ahead, and in less than 
ten minutes we came alongside a good-sized hut,j 
which turned out to be the welcome wine-shop the 
driver had promised us. Here was a roof anyhow, 
so we entered, hoping for supper and beds in the 
wayside inn. All our host could produce was a 
very good bottle of Servian "black" wine and some 


coarse bread of the country, so stale that we could 
hardly break it. This wine, which is almost as 
black as ink, comes from Negotin, lower down the 
Danube, and is rather a celebrated vintage I was 

It was only in my untravelled mind that the idea 

of " beds " existed at all. H- knew better than 

to expect anything of the kind. All we could do 
was to examine the place we were in with reference 
to passing the night. The floor of the room con- 
sisted of hard stamped clay, which from the drip- 
pings of our garments had become damp and 
slightly adhesive to the tread. The furniture con- 
sisted of a few rough stools and three tables. There 
was no question of any other apartment, there being 
only a dark hole in the rear sacred to the family, 
into which every sense we possessed forbade us to 
intrude. In peering about with the candles we 
found that the floor was perfectly alive with insects 
— such strange forms, awful in their strangeness 
■ — interesting, I daresay, to the entomologist, but 
simply disgusting to one not given to collecting 

If I were dying I could not have laid myself down 
on that floor, so we dragged the three tables 
together. They were provokingly uneven, but 
with the aid of a sheepskin bunda, and our carpet- 



bags for pillows, we contrived something upon 
which to rest our tired limbs. I should observe 
we had partially dried ourselves by a miserable fire 
fed with wet wood ; in fact, everything was wet 
— our plaids were soaked, and were useless as 

We had agreed to keep one candle burning, with 
the further precaution that we should sleep and 
tie through the night ; for it was a cut-throat- 
looking place, and the countenance of the ordinary 
Servian is not reassuring. It fell to my lot to have 
the first watch, and I lay awake staring at the roof, 
no great height above us. Its dirt-stained rafters 
were lit up by the candle, and I soon became 
aware that the mainbody of the insects was per- 
forming a strategic movement highly creditable to 
the attacking party — they dropped down upon us 
from the beams ! I will not pursue the subject 
farther, but as long as the candle burned I did not 
sleep a wink. I suppose I must have dozed off 

towards morning, for H roused me from a 

state of semi-unconsciousness, and " up we got and 
shook our lugs." 

The first thing I saw on pushing open the door 
was the steaming carcass of a sheep hung just 
outside, with a pool of blood on the very thresh- 
old ! In many places in Eastern Europe they have 


the disgusting habit of slaughtering the animals in 
the middle of the street. 

As soon as we had swallowed a cup of hot coffee, 
which is always good in this part of the world, 
we lost no time in clearing out of the wretched 
hovel where w r e had passed the night. On every 
side there were traces of last night's tempest — 
trees uprooted and lying across the road, walls 
blown down, and watercourses overflowing. It 
came to my knowledge later that we got part of 
the same storm that had fallen with such devas- 
tating fury on Buda-Pest just twenty-four hours 
earlier. 1 

1 Extract of a private letter, dated Buda-Pest, June 28th, from Mr 
Landor Crosse, which appeared in the 'Daily News,' July 6, 1875 : 
" We have had one of the most dreadful storms that has happened here 
in the memory of man. I must tell you that on Saturday evening I 
was taking my coffee and cigar in the beautiful gardens of the Isle St 
Marguerite, opposite Buda-Pest, when a little after six o'clock a fearful 
hurricane arose very suddenly, sweeping over us with terrific force. 
Branches of trees were carried along like feathers. After this came a 
dreadful thunderstorm, accompanied by rain and hail, the hail break- 
ing windows right and left, even those that were made of plate-glass. 
The hailstones were on an average the size of walnuts, and some very 
much larger. Two trees were struck by lightning within thirty yards 
of me. I had a narrow escape, for these large trees were shattered, 
and the fragments dispersed by the hurricane ; it was an awful 
moment, and I shall never forget it as long as I live. 

u Yesterday I w r ent over to the Buda side, where twenty houses 
have been entirely washed away. Nearly the whole of the town is 
flooded, and every street converted into a river five or six feet in 
depth. It is estimated that more than two hundred people have 
been drowned. ... On Sunday morning I saw the Danube bear- 


It is a fact worth noting that this storm affected 
a large area of Europe, travelling north-west to 
south-east. A friend writing from the neighbour- 
hood of Dresden made mention of a severe storm 
on the 24th of June ; it broke upon Buda on the 
26th, reaching us down in Servia on the 27th. 

ing swiftly away the terrible wreckage of the storm. There were 
large articles of furniture, the bodies of men, women, and children, 
together with horses and cows, all floating on the whirling waters. 
... It rained a waterspout for nearly five hours, and in conse- 
quence the small valleys leading down from the mountain were in 
some places thirty feet deep, for a time, in rushing water. . . . The 
tramways in some places are destroyed ; the mountain railway 
wrecked ; the vineyards on the hillside simply ruined. . . . You 
will scarcely credit me when I tell you that a house situated at the 
bottom of the valley and near the railway station was literally 
battered in by a drift of hailstones. The doors and windows were 
burst in before the inmates could escape, and they were actually 
buried alive in ice. When I saw the house twenty-two hours after- 
wards it was still four feet deep in hailstones, though they had been 
clearing them away with spades. Just as I got there they recovered 
the body of a poor woman who had perished. From this spot, and 
for about a mile up the valley, no less than fifty-seven bodies were 


Miiiclenpek — Well-to-do condition of Servians — Lady Mary Wortley 
Montague's journey through Servia — Troubles in Bulgaria — 
Communists at Negotin — Copper mines — Forest ride — Robbers 
on the road — Kucainia — Belo-breska — Across the Danube — 
Detention at customhouse — Weisskirchen — Sleeping Wallacks. 

We reached Maiclenpek without further mishap, 
and here I began to make inquiries again about a 
horse. I was informed that in some of the villages 
farther up I should be sure to find the sort of horse 
I wanted, and not sorry for an excuse for exploring 
the country, I agreed to go, at the same time get- 
ting my friend to join me. 

We hired some horses for the expedition, and set 
off, a party of four : three Englishmen (for we had 
picked up a friend at Maidenpek) and a Serb 
attendant, who was to act as our guide. He rode 
a small plucky horse, being armed with a long 
Turkish gun slung over his shoulder, while his belt 
was stuck full of strange-looking weapons, worthy 
of an old-curiosity shop. We were mounted on 
serviceable little nags, and had also our revolvers. 

The ride was truly enjoyable. We soon left the 


road, and took our way along a forest path in 
Indian file, our picturesque guide leading the way. 
The path came to an end before long, and we then 
followed the course of a little stream ; but as it 
wound about in a most tortuous manner we were 
obliged to be continually crossing and recrossing. 
Sometimes we rode through a jungle of reeds, at 
least eight feet high ; then we had to scramble up 
a sandy bank. The horses were like cats, and did 
their scrambling well ; and at rare intervals we 
found ourselves on a fair stretch of open lawn which 
fringes the dense forest. There were bits here and 
there which reminded one of Devonshire, where the 
luxuriant ferns dipped their waving plumes into the 
cool waters of the rocky stream. In the forest, too, 
there were exquisite fairy-spots, where, as Spenser 
says, is found " beauty enregistered in every nook." 
After a time the way grew more wild in the 
character of the scenery, and at length the route we 
took was so rough that we had to dismount and 
lead our horses up the side of a steep hill. It was 
tiresome work, for the heat was intense ; but gain- 
ing the top, we were rewarded by a grand view of 
the Balkan Mountains rising directly south. We 
ought to have made out Widdin and a stretch of 
the Danube at Palanka ; but the middle of the day 
is the worst time for the details of a distant view. 


Shortly after this we arrived at a small uncivilised- 
looking village. The men were powerfully built in 
point of figure, and the women rather handsome. 
Both sexes wear picturesque garments. This 
village, like many others of the same kind, we 
found encircled by plum-orchards. Thousands of 
barrels of dried plums are sent from Servia every 
year, not only to Western Europe, but to America. 
Besides the consumption of the fruit in its inno- 
cent form of prunes, it is made into the spirit 
called slivovitz, the curse of Hungary and 

We made a halt at this village, and sent out a man 
to look up some horses. He brought in several, but 
none of them were strong enough for my purpose. It 
was then proposed that we should ride on to the next 
village. Here we got dinner but no horses. The 
meal was very simple but not unpalatable, finishing 
up with excellent Turkish coffee. 

I am writing now of the status quo ante helium, 
and I must say I was struck with the well-to-do 
aspect of the peasants in Servia. By peasants I 
mean the class answering to the German bauer. 
It is true they lack many things that Western 
civilisation regards as necessaries ; but have they 
not had the Turks for their masters far into this 
century 1 Turning over Lady Mary Wortley 


Montague's Letters, 1 there occurs the following 
paragraph in her account of a journey through 
Servia in 1717: — 

" We crossed the deserts of Servia, almost quite 
overgrown with wood, through a country naturally 
fertile. The inhabitants are industrious ; but the 
oppression of the peasants is so great, they are 
forced to abandon their houses, and neglect their 
tillage, all they have being a prey to janissaries 
whenever they please to seize upon it. We had a 
guard of five hundred of them, and I was almost in 
fears every day to see their insolencies in the poor 
villages through which we passed. ... I was 
assured that the quantity of wine last vintage was 
so prodigious that they were forced to dig holes in 
the earth to put it in. The happiness of this plenty 
is scarcely perceived by the oppressed people. I 
saw here [Nissa] a new occasion for my compassion. 
The wretches that had provided twenty waggons 
for our baggage from Belgrade hither for a certain 
hire being all sent back without payment, some of 
their horses lamed, and others killed, without any 
satisfaction made for them. The poor fellows came 
round the house weeping and tearing their hair and 
beards in a most pitiable manner, without getting 
anything but drubs from the insolent soldiers. I 

1 Letters and Works, edited by Lord Wharncliffe, 1837, p. 351, 359. 


would have paid them the money out of my own 
pocket with all my heart, but it would only have 
been giving so much to the aga, who would have 
taken it from them without any remorse. . . . 
The villagers are so poor that only force 
would extort from them necessary provisions. 
Indeed the janissaries had no mercy on their 
poverty, killing all the poultry and sheep they 
could find, without asking to whom they belonged, 
while the wretched owners durst not put in their 
claim for fear of being beaten. When the pashas 
travel it is yet worse. These oppressors are not 
content with eating all that is to be eaten belonging 
to the peasants; after they have crammed themselves 
and their numerous retinue, they have the impudence 
to exact what they call teeth-money, a contribution 
for the use of their teeth, worn with doing them the 
honour of devouring their meat." 

This is a lively picture of Turkish rule a century 
and a half ago ; it helps us to understand the say- 
ing, " Where the Turk treads, no grass grows." 

The insurrection in Bulgaria had just broken out 
when I was in Servia : I cannot say I heard it much 
talked of; we, none of us, knew then the signifi- 
cance of the movement. But great uneasiness was 
felt in reference to the wide spread of certain 
communistic doctrines. A disturbance was stated 


to have taken place a few days before at Negotin. 
The foreign owners of property expressed them- 
selves very seriously alarmed about the communistic 
propagandists who were going round the country. 
No one seemed certain as to the course events would 

However — to resume my own simple narrative 
— after dining in the little village aforesaid, we 
set our faces again towards Maidenpek, returning 
by another route, which afforded us some very 
romantic scenery. I finished the difficulty about 
the horse by purchasing the one I had ridden 
that day. He was smaller than I liked, but 
he had proved himself strong and sure footed. 
I cannot say he was a beauty, but what can 
one expect for seventeen ducats — about eight 
pounds English ? 

The second day of our stay at Maidenpek was 
principally devoted to inspecting some copper mines 
belonging to an English company. They appeared 
to be doing pretty well. We next arranged to ride 
over to Kucainia, a place some twenty-five miles 
off. It was settled that we were to start at seven 
o'clock in the morning, but a dense white fog 
obliterated the outer world — we might have been 
on the verge of Nowhere. It was more than two 
hours before the fog lifted sufficiently to enable us 


to proceed. We went on our way some three 
miles when a drenching shower came on, and 
we took shelter in the cavernous interior of an 
enormous, half - ruined oak - tree. Natural decay 
and the pickaxes of the woodman seeking fuel 
for his camp-fire had hollowed out a comfortable 
retreat from the storm. Surrounding the tree was 
a bed of wild strawberries, which helped to beguile 
the time. When at length the clouds cleared away, 
we resumed our saddles with dry jackets. But, as 
it turned out, the half-hour we spent under the tree 
lost us the chance of some fun. 

I must remark that our road lay the whole way 
through a majestic forest. We were actually on 
the highroad to Belgrade, yet in many places it 
was nothing more than a grass-drive with trees on 
either side. Looking some way ahead when we 
found ourselves on a track of this kind, we observed 
in the distance two men on horseback standing 
their horses in the middle of the road, apparently 
waiting for some one to pass. One of the fellows, 
armed with the usual long Turkish gun, seeing our 
approach, came forward as if to meet us. We 
instinctively looked to our revolvers, but as he 
came up we saw that the stranger on the black 
horse (he must have been once a splendid roadster) 
had no sinister intentions upon us. It turned out 


that he was the pope from a neighbouring village. 
He was in a great state of excitement, but shook 
hands with us all round before uttering a word. 
He then told us that the diligence from Belgrade 
had been stopped only half an hour ago by five 
brigands at the bottom of the very hill we had just 
passed. The booty was by no means insignificant. 
The robbers had made off with 7000 florins in gold; 
but what seemed rather significant was the state- 
ment that though the driver and the conductor of 
the diligence were both well armed, they had 
offered but little or no resistance. They declared 
they were overpowered by numbers. If there had 
been a shot fired we certainly must have heard it. 

Later we ascertained that the money belonged to 
the copper-mining company at Maidenpek ; the loss 
was not theirs, however, as the Government would 
have to reimburse it. It was just like our ill-luck 
to wait out of the shower ; but for that delay we 
should have come in for the affray. I have my 
doubts as to whether our assistance would have 
been particularly welcome to the driver of the 
diligence. Kobbery on the highroad is a capital 
offence in Servia. 1 

Arriving at the next village, we found the whole 
place in a hubbub and commotion. The men were 

1 The robbers were subsequently taken and executed. 


arming and collecting horses. We went straight to 
the post-office to hear the rights of the story ; the 
facts were mainly as I have related them. The 
excitement appeared to increase as the crowd 
flocked in from the fields. Horses were being 
saddled, powder served out, and arrangements 
made for a systematic battue of the robbers. After 
amusing ourselves by watching the warlike prepara- 
tions, we rode on to Kucainia. 

We were hospitably received by a fellow-country- 
man who is working the mines there. We did justice 
to his capital dinner, and told our robber story, which 
our host capped with the rumours of a communistic 
rising down south. 

After a short stay at Kucainia, we made arrange- 
ments for returning over the Danube ; but this time 
we proposed to strike the river at Belo-breska, 
higher up than Milanovacz. We had dropped our 

other friend, so H and I hired a light cart for 

the thirty miles to Belo-breska, my new horse 
meanwhile being tied on behind, and so we jogged 
along. The road was good, but, like the good people 
in Thackeray's novels, totally uninteresting. We 
drove continually through fields of maize — I say 
through the fields, for there was no hedge or fence 
anywhere. The soil appeared to be splendidly fertile 
and well cultivated. 


Arrived at Belo-breska, our object was to get 
across the Danube, and luckily we found a large 
flat-bottomed boat used for cattle. The owner 
demanded a ducat (about nine shillings) for taking 
us across. I thought it a monstrous charge, but the 
fellow had us in his power. I do not think the 
Servians are much liked by those who have to do 
business with them. From all I heard, Canning's 
lines about the sharp practice of some nearer 
neighbours would apply very well to the Servians : — 

" In matters of commerce the fault of the Dutch 
Is giving too little, and asking too much." 

No sooner had we landed on the Hungarian side 
of the river than up came a customhouse official, 
who informed me that I must pay duty for my 
horse. Of course, as a law-respecting Briton, I was 
ready enough to comply ; but the fellow could not 
tell me what the charge was, saying his chief was 
absent, and might not be back for some hours. 

This was exasperating to the last degree ; the 
more so that it seemed so stupid that the man left 
in charge could not consult a tariff of taxes, or elicit 
from the villagers some information. He was 
stolidly obstinate, and refused to let my horse go 

at any price, though I offered him what H and 

I both thought a reasonable number of florins for 
the horse-duty. In less than ten minutes I had 


worked myself into a rage — a foolish thing to do 
with the thermometer at 96° in the shade; but 

H was provokingly calm, which irritated me 

still more. There is an old French verse which, 
rendered into English, says — 

" Some of your griefs you have cured, 

And the sharpest you still have survived; 
But what torments of pain you endured 
From evils that never arrived ! M 

Now, a little patience would have saved me a use- 
less ebullition of temper. While I was still at 
white-heat up came the head official ; removing the 
cigar from his lips with Oriental dignity and 
deliberation, he calmly answered my question, and 
having paid the money we went our way. 

Our design was now to get to Weisskirchen, and 
sleep there, that place being the only decent quarters 
within reach. Our road was over the mountains — a 
lonely pass of ill repute. Several persons had been 
stopped and robbed in these parts quite recently. 
The Government had formerly a small guardhouse 
at the top of the pass ; but it has been deserted since 
1867, when the district ceased to be maintained as 
the Military Frontier. Since that time crime has 
been very much on the increase all along the border- 
country. The lawlessness that is rampant at the 
extremities of the kingdom shows a weakness in 
the Central Government which is very reprehensible. 


But for this laxity on the borders, the recent 
Szeckler conspiracy for making a raid on the 
Kussian railway could never have been projected. 

We arrived all right at Weisskirchen, which was 
good-luck considering the chances of an upset in the 
darkness, for night had overtaken us long before 
our drive was half over. Thoroughly tired, we 
were glad enough to draw up in the innyard, 
the same I had visited some weeks before ; but 
great was our disgust at being told that there 
was not a bed to be had — every room was taken. 
We drove on to inn No. 2, where they had beds 
but no supper. We were nearly starving, for 
we had had nothing to eat since the morning, 
so back we had to go to No. 1 to procure supper. 
When this important meal was finished, we had to 
make the return journey once more. The streets 
were perfectly dark, and it was an affair of no small 
difficulty to find our way. It happened to me that 
I stepped into something soft and bumpy. I could 
not conceive what it was. I made a long step 
forward, thinking to clear the obstacle, but I only 
stumbled into another soft and bumpy thing. Was 
it a flock of sheep lying packed together ? The skins 
of the sheep were there, it is true, but as covering 
for the forms of prostrate Wallacks. A lot of these 
fellows, wrapped in their cloaks, were sleeping huddled 


together at the side of the street. I found after- 
wards that this is a common practice with these 
people. The wonderful bunda is a cloak by day 
and a house by night. 


Variety of races in Hungary — Wallacks or Roumains — Statistics — 
Savage outbreak of the Wallacks in former years — Panslavic 
ideas — Roumanians and their origin — Priests of the Greek 
Church — Destruction of forests — Spirit of Communism — In- 
cendiary fires. 

The mixture of races in Hungary is a puzzle to 
any outsider. There is the original substratum 
of Slavs, overlaid by Szeklers, Magyars, German 
immigrants, Wallacks, Eusniacks, Jews, and gipsies. 
An old German writer has quaintly described the 
characteristics of these various peoples in the follow- 
ing manner : — 

" To the great national kitchen the Magyar 
contributes bread, meat, and wine ; the Eusniack 
and Wallack, salt from the salt pits of Marmaros ; 
the Slavonian, bacon, for Slavonia furnishes the 
greatest number of fattened pigs ; the German gives 
potatoes and vegetables ; the Italian, rice ; the 
Slovack, milk, cheese, and butter, besides table- 
linen, kitchen utensils, and crockery ware ; the Jew 
supplies the Hungarian with money ; and the gipsy 
furnishes the entertainment with music." 


Coming to hard facts, the latest statistics of M. 
Keleti give 15,417,327 as the total population of 
Hungary. Of these 2,470,000 are Wallacks, who 
since the nationality fever has set in desire to be 
called Roumains ; and if you say Roman at once, they 
will be still better pleased. They were in old time 
the overflow of Wallachia, now forming part of the 
Roumanian Principality. The first historical irrup- 
tion of the Wallacks was about the end of the 
fourteenth century, when they became a terrible 
pest to the German settlers in Transylvania, dreaded 
by them as much as Turk or Tartar. They burned 
and pillaged the lands and villages of the peaceful 
dwellers in the Saxon settlement ; but at length they 
had become so numerous that the law took cognisance 
of their existence and reduced them to a state of serf- 
dom, from which they were not relieved till 1848. 

A subject race has always its wrongs, and there 
is no doubt the haughty Magyar nobles treated the 
Wallacks with great harshness and indignity. It 
was the old story — good masters were kind to their 
serfs, but those less fortunate had a bad time of it, 
what with forced labour and other burdens. "A 
lord is a lord even in hell" is the saying of the 

Mr Paget 1 tells the story of an old countess he 

1 Hungary and Transylvania, 1839. 



met in Transylvania, who used to lament that 
" times were sadly changed, peasants were no 
longer so respectful as they used to be ; she could 
remember walking to church on the backs of the 
peasants, who knelt down in the mud to allow her 
to pass over them without soiling her shoes. She 
could also remember, though less partial to the 
recollection, a rising of the peasantry, when nothing 
but the kindness with which her mother had gene- 
rally treated them saved her from the cruel death 
which many of her neighbours met with." 

The rising here mentioned took place in 1784, 
when two Wallacks named Hora and Kloska were 
the leaders of a terrible onslaught upon the Magyar 
nobles. The Vienna Government was accused on 
this occasion of being very tardy in sending troops 
to quell the insurrection. It was the time when 
the unpopular reforms of Joseph II. were so ill 
received by the Magyars, and no good feeling sub- 
sisted between Hungary and the Central Govern- 

But the most frightful outbreak of the Wallacks 
was, as we all know, within living memory. You 
can hear from the lips of witnesses descriptions of 
horrors committed not thirty years ago in Transyl- 
vania. Entire villages were destroyed, whole 
families slaughtered, down to the new-born infant. 


The arms of the "Wallacks were supplied by 
Austria, for whom they were acting as a sort of 
militia at the time of Hungary's war of indepen- 
dence. The Vienna Government has been very 
fond of playing off the Wallacks and the Slavs 
against the Magyars : they have kept the pot always 
simmering ; if some fine day it boils over, they will 
have the fat in the fire. 

Of course in Southern Hungary one hears enough 
about the Panslavic movement, and Panslavic 
ideas. "The idea of Panslavism had a purely 
literary origin," observes Sir Gardiner Wilkinson 
in his book on Dalmatia. " It was started by 
Kolla, a Protestant clergyman of the Slavonic 
congregation at Pesth, who wished to establish a 
national literature by circulating all works written 

in the various Slavonic dialects The 

idea of an intellectual union of all these nations 
naturally led to that of a political one ; and the 
Slavonians seeing that their numbers amounted to 
about one-third of the whole population of Europe, 
and occupied more than half its territory, began to 
be sensible that they might claim for themselves a 
position to which they had not hitherto aspired." 

But the Wallacks, or, as we will now call them, 
Eoumains, are not Slavs at all; they are utterly 
distinct in race, though they are co-religionists with 


the Southern Slavs. " The Eoumanians," says 
Mr Freeman, 1 " speak neither Greek nor Turkish, 
neither Slave nor Skipetar, but a dialect of Latin, 
a tongue akin not to any of their neighbours, but 
to the tongues of Gaul, Italy, and Spain." He is 
inclined to think these so-called Dacians are the 
surviving representatives of the great Thracian race. 

Who they were is, after all, not so important a 
question as what they are, these two millions and 
a half of Eoumains in Hungary. To put the 
statistical figures in another way, Mr. Boner, 2 writ- 
ing in 1865, calculates that the Eoumains, natural- 
ised in Southern Hungary, number 596 out of every 
1000 souls in Transylvania. The fecundity of the 
race is remarkable, they threaten to overwhelm the 
Saxons, whose numbers, on the other hand, are 
seriously on the decrease. They are also supplant- 
ing the Magyars in Southern Hungary. 

I have myself seen villages which I was told had 
been exclusively Magyar, but which are now as 
exclusively Eoumain. It is even possible to find 
churches where the service conducted in the Magyar 
tongue has ceased to be understood by the con- 

1 'Geographical Aspect of the Eastern Question,' Fortnightly 
Review, January 1877. 
2 Transylvania : its Products and People. 


To meet a Eoumain possessed even of the first 
rudiments of education is an exception to the rule : 
even their priests are deplorably ignorant ; but when 
we find them in receipt of such a miserable stipend 
as 100 florins, indeed in some cases 30 florins a- 
year, it speaks for itself that they belong to the 
poorest class. The Wallacks lead their lives outside 
the pale of civilisation ; they are without the wants 
and desires of a settled life. Very naturally the 
manumission of the serfs in 1848 found them utterly 
unprepared for their political freedom. Neither by 
nature or by tradition are they law-respecting ; in 
fact, they are very much the reverse. 

The Eoumain is a Communist pure and simple ; 
the uneducated among them know no other poli- 
tical creed. It is not that of the advanced school of 
Communism, which deals with social theories, but 
a simple consistent belief that, as they themselves 
express it, " what God makes grow belongs to one 
and all alike/' In this spirit he helps himself to 
the fruit in his neighbour s garden when too lazy 
to cultivate the ground for himself. 

This child of nature is by instinct a nomadic 
shepherd and herdsman ; he hates forests, and will 
ruthlessly burn down the finest trees to make a 
clearing for sheep-pastures. It is impossible to 
travel twenty miles in the Southern Carpathians 


without encountering the terrible ravages committed 
by these people in the beautiful woods that adorn 
the sides of the mountains. 

" The Wallacks find it too much trouble to fell the 
trees/' says Mr Boner. "They destroy systematically: 
one year the bark is stripped off, the wood dries, 
and the year after it is fired. . . . In 1862, near 
Toplitza, 23,000 jock of forest were burned by the 

Judging from what I saw during my travels in 
Hungary in 1875-76, I should say the evil described 
by Mr Boner ten years before has in no way abated. 
The Wallacks pursue their ruthless destruction of 
the forests, and the law seems powerless to arrest the 
mischief. At present there is wood and enough, 
but the time will come when the country at large 
must suffer from this reckless waste. There are 
about twenty-three million acres of forest in Hun- 
gary, including almost the only oak-woods left in 
Europe. The great proportion of the forest-land 
belongs to the State, hence the supervision is less 
keen, and the depredations more readily winked at. 
Hiding one day with a Hungarian friend, I asked 
what w T ould be the probable cost of a wooden house 
then building on the verge of the forest. My friend 
replied, laughing, " That depends on whether 
the builder stole the w^ood himself, or only bought 


it of some one else who had stolen it ; he might 
possibly have purchased the wood from the real 
owner, but that is not very probable. So you see 
I really cannot tell you what the house will cost." 

Incendiary fires are very common in Hungary. 
Here, again, the Wallacks do their share of mischief. 
If they have a grudge against an active magistrate 
or a thriving neighbour, his farmstead is set on fire, 
not once, but many times probably. Added to this, 
the Wallack takes an actual pleasure in wanton 
destruction. As an instance, an English company 
who are working coal mines in the neighbourhood 
of Orsova have been obliged within the last two 
years to relay their railway from the mines to the 
Danube no less than three times, in consequence of 
the Wallacks persistently destroying the permanent 
way and stealing the rails. 

Notwithstanding all this the Wallacks are not 
without their good points. They become capital 
workmen under certain circumstances, and they 
possess an amount of natural intelligence which 
promises better things as the result of education. 
" Barring his weakness for tobacco and spirits, the 
much-abused Wallack is a useful fellow to the 
sportsman and the traveller," said a sporting friend 
of mine who visits Transylvania nearly every 


Paraffine-works in Oravicza — Gold mine — Coal mines at Auima-Steir- 
dorf — Geology — States Eailway Company's mines — Bribery. 

The old copper and silver mines of Oravicza are 
now abandoned, but the industrial activity of 
the place is kept up by the working of coal 
mines, which have their depot here. . The States 
Eailway Company are the great owners of mines 
in this district. They confine their attention 
to iron and coal. There are extensive paraffine- 
works in Oravicza ; the crude oil is distilled from 
the black shale of the Steirdorf coal, yielding five 
per cent of petroleum. At Moldova, where we 
were recently, the same company have large 
sulphuric acid works, employing as material the 
iron pyrites of the old mines. Moldova had 
formerly the reputation of producing the best 
copper in Europe, but the mines fell out of work, 
I believe, in 1848. 

An English gentleman is working a gold mine 
near Oravicza with some success. Subsequent to 
my visit his people came upon what I think the 


miners call a " pocket" of free gold. Bismuth is 
also raised, though not in large quantities. 

Wishing to see the coal mines at Steirdorf, I 
rode over the hills in about four hours. As I left 
Oravicza in the early morning the view appeared 
very striking. Looking back, I could see the little 
town straggling along in the shadow of the deeply- 
cleft valley, while beyond stretched the sunlit p]ain, 
level as a sea, rich with fields of ripe corn. The 
mists still lingered around me in the mountains, 
rolling about in the form of soft white masses of 
vapour, with here and there a fringed edge of 
iridescence. The cool freshness of the morning 
and the beauty of the varied scenery made the ride 
most enjoyable. 

Arriving at Steirdorf, I spent some hours in visit- 
ing the ironworks, blast-furnaces, coke-ovens, &c. 
The coal produced here is said to be the best in 
Hungary. The output, I am told, is 150,000 tons; 
but only one-third of this is sold, the rest being used 
by the States Eailway Company for their own iron- 
works, and for the locomotive engines of their line. 

Professor Ansted, 1 who made a professional visit to 
this part of the country in 1862, remarks that " the 
iron is mined by horizontal drifts or kennels into the 
side of the hills. The coal is mined by vertical 

1 A Short Trip in Hungary and Transylvania. 


shafts. The ironstone is of the kind common to 
some parts of Scotland, and known as blackband. 
There are as many as eight principal seams." 

I had sent a man in advance from Oravicza to 
take my horse back, as I intended returning by rail. 
This mountain railway between Oravicza and 
Auima-Steirdorf is a remarkable piece of engineer- 
ing work. In a distance of about twenty miles it 
ascends 1100 feet, in some parts as much as one 
foot in five. They have very powerful engines and 
a cogwheel arrangement, the line making a zigzag 
up the mountain-side. The effect is very curious in 
descending to see another train below you creeping 
uphill, now at one angle, now at another. 

Considering the expensive nature of the works, 
and the paucity of passengers, I almost wonder that 
the States Eailway Company did more than con- 
struct a narrow gauge for the mineral traffic. This 
company, I believe, is of Austrian origin, assisted 
by French capital — in fact, its head office is in 
Paris. It obtained large concessions in the Banat 
during the Austrian rule in Hungary, acquiring 
a considerable amount of property at very much 
below its real value ; in consequence the company 
is looked upon with some degree of jealousy by 
the Hungarians. Of forest - land alone it owns 
about 360 square miles. It has a large staff of 


officials, mostly Germans, who manage the woods 
and forests on a very complicated system, which 
pays well, but would probably pay better if simpli- 
fied. It has also a monopoly of certain things in 
its own district, such as salt, &c. 

The prevalence of bribery is one of the causes 
seriously retarding progress in Hungary. There is 
as yet no wholesome feeling against this corruption, 
even amongst those who ought to show an example 
to the community. They have also a droll way of 
cooking accounts down in these parts, but there is 
a vast deal of human nature everywhere, so " let no 
more be said." 


Mineral wealth of the Banat — Wild ride to Dognacska — Equipment 
for a riding tour — An afternoon nap and its consequences — 
Copper mines — Self-help — Eare insects — Moravicza — Rare 
minerals — Deutsch Bogsan — Beschitza. 

The neighbourhood of Oravicza is well worth ex- 
ploring, especially by those who like knocking about 
with a geological hammer. The mines in the Banat 
were perhaps worked earlier than any other in this 
part of Europe. The minerals of the district 
present a very remarkable variety. Von Cotta, I 
imagine, is the best authority upon the Banat ore 

I had heard a good deal of the silver and copper 
mines of Dognacska, and wishing to visit them, I 

induced my friend H to accompany me. We 

arranged to go on horseback. I was very glad to 
escape the " carts of the country," which, notwith- 
standing the atrocious roads, are the usual mode of 
conveyance. It had always been my intention to 
ride about the country, and with this view I brought 
my saddle and travelling apparatus from London — 


English-made articles bear knocking about so much, 
better than similar things purchased on the Con- 

I had an ordinary pigskin saddle, furnished with 
plenty of metal rings. I had four saddle-bags in 
all, made of a material known as waterproof flax 
cloth. It has some advantages over leather, but is 
too apt to wear into holes. It is of importance to 
have the straps of your saddle-bags very strongly 
attached. It is not enough that they are sewn an 
inch into the bag, they should extend down the 
sides ; for want of this I had to repair mine several 
times. Attached to my bridle I had a very con- 
venient arrangement for picketing my horse. It 
consisted of a rope about twelve feet long, neatly 
rolled round itself; this was kept strapped on the 
left side of the horse's head. 

The chief pride of my outfit was a cooking-appa- 
ratus, the last thing out, which merits a few words 
of description. It consisted of a round tin box, 
eight inches in diameter, capable of boiling three 
pints of water in two minutes and a half; of its 
own self-consciousness, the sauce-pan could evolve 
into a frying-pan, besides other adaptations, includ- 
ing space for a Eussian lamp — a vessel holding spirit 
— with cellular cavities for salt, pepper, matches, 
not forgetting cup, spoon, and plate. The Eussian 


lamp is a very useful contrivance, in case of open- 
air cooking; it gives a flame six or seven inches 
long, which is not easily affected by wind or 

Amongst the stores I took out from England was 
some " compressed tea," which is very portable. In 
riding, all powdery substances should be avoided; 
I had on one occasion practical experience of this. 
I had procured some horse-medicine, and giving my 
animal one dose, I packed the rest very carefully, as 
I thought ; on opening my saddle-bag after a ride 
of twenty miles, I found, to my disgust, that this 
wretched white powder had mixed itself up with 
everything. I wished I had made the horse his 
own medicine-chest, and given him his three doses 
at once. 

Let the weather be ever so warm in Hungary, it 
is not wise to take even a day's ride without a good 
warm plaid ; the changes of temperature are often 
very sudden, and herein is the danger of fever. 
The peasant says, " In summer take thy bunda 
(fur cloak)." 

To complete the catalogue of my travelling append- 
ages, I may mention a revolver, a bowie-knife, a 
compass, good maps of the country, and a flask. 
My flask held exactly a bottle of wine ; it was 
covered with thick felt, which on being soaked 


in water has the effect of keeping the wine quite 
cool for an incredibly long time, even in the 
hottest weather. I have been told that the Arabs 
in the desert have long been up to this dodge 
with respect to their water - bottles, which are 
suffered to leak a little to keep up the evaporation. 
The food I carried was of course renewed from 
time to time, according to circumstances. Naturally 
I economised the lamp spirit whenever I could 
obtain sticks for boiling the water, as the spirit 
could not always be procured in the Hungarian 

In starting for Dognacska and Eeschitza, we had 
before us a ride of more than thirty miles through 
a very rough country, and with uncertain prospects 
of accommodation, so I took with me all my 
travelling " contraptions," as they say in the west 
of England. The weather was excessively hot the 

morning H and I started on our expedition. 

About noon, after we had ridden some two hours, 
the sun's rays beat down upon us with such force 
that we made an unintentional halt on coming 
to a well by the wayside. It was one of those 
picturesque wells so familiar in Eastern landscape — 
a beam balanced on a lofty pole, with a rod hanging 
from one end, to which is attached the bucket for 
drawing water. 


Not far from the well was one of those curious 
tree hay -stacks to be seen in some parts of 
Hungary. It is the practice to clear away a certain 
number of the middle branches of a tree, then a 
wooden platform is constructed, on which a quantity 
of hay is placed in store for winter use. This 
mushroom - shaped hay - rick receives a cover of 
thatch, out of the centre of which comes the tree-top. 

The shade afforded by this wigwam on stilts 
looked most inviting just then, and we yielded to 
the seduction. We got off, and throwing ourselves 
at full length on the grass, allowed our horses to 
graze close to us, without taking the trouble to 
picket them. 

The heat of the noonday was perfectly over- 
powering. The momentary shade was an intense 
relief, for we had been in the unmitigated glare of 
the sun the whole morning. Of course we quickly 
had out our cigar-cases, and puffing the grateful 
weed, we were soon in full enjoyment of digni- 
fied ease. We were in that idle mood when, one 
says with the lotus-eaters, " taking no care" — 

" There is no joy but calm ! 
Why should we only toil, the roof and crown of things." 

" Why, indeed, should we toil ? " I repeated 
languidly, at the same time gently and slowly 
breaking off the end of my cigar-ash. 


"Why, indeed 1 ?" echoed my friend in a sleepy 
tone ; and, unlike his usual wont, he was quite dis- 
inclined to argue the point, being too lazy for any- 

In another moment we had both sprung to our 
feet, most thoroughly roused from our apathy ; the 
fact was, a big brute of a sheep - dog suddenly 
jumped in upon us, barking loud and fiercely. We 
very soon found means to rid ourselves of the dog, 
but that was the least part of the incident. It 
appeared that the noise and suddenness of the 
outburst had so frightened our horses that they 
took to their heels and galloped off as hard as they 
could tear. Of course we were after them like a 
shot, but they had gone all manner of ways. I 
spotted my little Servian nag breasting the hill to 
our right in grand style ; the saddle-bags were 
beating his flanks. A pretty race we had after 
those brutes of horses ! W T e had to jump ditches, 
and struggle up sandbanks, tear through under- 
cover, and finally H got " stogged " in a 

treacherous green marsh. Was there ever anything 
so exasperating and ridiculous ? 

After running more or less for three-quarters of 
an hour in a sweltering heat, we came upon the 
horses in an open glade in the wood, where they 
were calmly regaling in green pastures, like lotus- 


eaters themselves. Never from that day forward 
have I forgotten the necessary duty of picketing my 

It was well on in the afternoon before we got to 
Dognacska, a mere mining village, but prettily 
situated in a narrow valley. On approaching, we 
found it to be a more uncivilised place than we had 
expected, and we had not expected much. The chil- 
dren ran away screaming at the sight of two horse- 
men, so travellers, I expect, are unknown in these 
parts. We found out a little inn, indicated by a 
wisp of straw hanging above the door, and here we 
asked to be accommodated; they were profuse in 
promises, but as there was no one to look after the 
horses, we had to attend to them ourselves. The 
woman of the house said the men were all out, but 
would be back presently. We only took a little 
bread and cheese, but ordered a substantial supper 
to be ready for us on our return later in the evening. 
The fact was, we were in a hurry to be off to look at 
the works. Lead, silver, iron, and copper are found 
at Dognacska, but the working at present is a dead- 
alive operation. The blast-furnaces for making pig- 
iron are of recent construction, but the smelting- 
furnaces were very antiquated. 

It was the same answer everywhere, " All belongs 
to the Marquis of Carrabas ; " in other words, the 


States Railway Company owns both mines and 
forests in all directions throughout the Banat, 
though at the same time I was told that they do 
not undertake metallic mining. 

From what I gathered it would seem that the 
mines round here are not really very rich. You 
cannot depend on the working as in Cornwall, for 
they are without regular lodes. A rich "pocket'' 
occurs here and there, but then is lost, the deposit 
not holding on to any depth. 

We made a considerable round, and returned 
with appetites very sharp set, and counted on the 
chicken with paprika that we had ordered to be 
ready for us. On arriving at the little inn, great 
was our disgust to find it utterly silent and deserted; 
neither man, woman, nor child was to be found in or 
about the place. With some difficulty we caught 
some children, who were peering at us behind the 
wall of a neighbour's house, and from these blubber- 
ing little animals, who I believe thought we were 
going to make mince meat of them, we at length 
extracted the fact that the people of the inn were 
gone off haymaking. This was really too bad, for 
if they had only told us, we could have made our 
arrangements accordingly, but here we were 
starving and not the remotest prospect of sup- 
per. There was no use wasting unparliamentary 


language, so I began foraging in all directions, 

while H busied himself in cutting up wood to 

make a fire, a process not too easy with an uncom- 
monly blunt axe. My researches into the interior 
of the dwelling were not encouraging; the fowl 
was not there, neither was the paprika. At length 
I discovered some eggs and a chunk of stale bread 
stowed away in a corner ; there were a great many 
things in that corner, but "they were not of my 
search " — ignorance is bliss. 

H had done his duty by the fire ; he had 

even persuaded the water to boil, which I looked 
upon as the beginning of soup. Happily for us I 
had my co-operative stores with me. From the 
depths of one of my saddle-bags I drew out a small 
jar of Liebig's meat — a spoonful or two of this gave 
quality to the soup. I added ten eggs and some 
small squares of bread, flavouring the whole mess 
with a pinch of dried herbs, salt, and pepper — 
all from "the stores." The result was a capital 
compound : in fact I never tasted a better soup of 
its kind ; we enjoyed it immensely. We had barely 
finished when in came the woman of the house ; 
she looked very much surprised, grumbled at our 
making such a large fire, and made no apology for 
her absence. 

No one came in to clean and feed our horses, and 


though I offered a liberal trinkgeld to any man or 
boy who would attend to them, not a soul could I 
get, they all slunk away. I believe they are afraid 
of horses at Dognacska. Self-help was the order of 
the day, and we just had to look after the poor 
brutes ourselves. 

We slept in the inn. My bed was made up in the 
place where I had found the eggs and bread. I 
imagine it was the " guest-corner." I do not wish 
to be sensational, and I am no entomologist, there- 
fore I will not narrate my experiences that night ; 
but I thought of the Irishman who said, " if the fleas 
had all been of one mind, they could have pulled 
him out of bed." Fortunately the summer nights 
are short; we were up with the early birds, and 
started before the heat of the day for Moravicza, 
another mining village. 

It was a pretty ride. We went for some way along- 
side a mineral tramway, which followed the bend 
of a charming valley. Then we came upon a new 
piece of road, made entirely of the whitest marble ; 
it looked almost like snow. Afterwards our track 
lay through a dense forest of majestic trees. We 
could not have found our way unassisted, but one 
of the mine inspectors from Dognacska had been 
sent with us. It was a delicious ride, the air still 
cool and fresh. Sometimes we were in the forest, and 


later, skirting a rocky ravine, we followed for a while 
a mountain stream. It was rough work for the 
horses, and once, when leading my horse over a 
narrow foot-bridge, he slipped off and rolled right 
over in the bed of the stream. Luckily he was 
none the worse for the accident : these small Servian 
horses bear a great deal of knocking about. It was 
surprising that the baggage did not suffer, but 
except getting a little wet, there was no harm done. 

This district is famous, I believe, for several kinds 
of rare beetles and butterflies. I saw some beauti- 
ful butterflies myself during our ride. 

Before reaching Moravicza we passed some large 
iron mines, but they were not in full swing. In the 
last century the copper mines of this district yielded 
extraordinary returns. Baron Born, in his " Travels 
in the Banat," mentions a deposit of copper ore 
reaching to the amazing depth of 240 feet. Some 
very fine syenite occurs in large blocks close to 
Moravicza, which might be very valuable if made 
more accessible. The village is half hidden in a 
narrow valley. Here we were most hospitably 

received by Herr W . In his collection of 

minerals he has many rare specimens from this 
locality, which is peculiarly rich in regard to 
variety. This gentleman kindly gave me some good 
specimens of magnetite, greenockite (sulphate of 


cadmium), aurichalcite, Ludwigite, and garnet. 
Leaving Moravicza, we rode on to Deutsch Bogsan, 
then to Reschitza, where we arrived in the evening. 
Here we found a tolerable inn, for it is a place 
of some size. We remained two days here ; it is 
a flourishing little place, the centre of the States 
Railway Works. They make a large quantity of 
steel rails, any number of which will be wanted if 
half of the projected lines are carried out, which are 
only waiting the settlement of the Eastern Question. 

In Reschitza there are large blast-furnaces and 
Bessemer converters. Enormous quantities of char- 
coal are produced; in short, on all sides there is 
evidence of mining activity. Narrow-gauge lines 
run in every direction, serving the coal mines ; there 
is besides a railway for the public from Reschitza to 
Deutsch Bogsan, and from the latter place a branch 
communicates with the main line between Buda-Pest 
and Basiash. 

The country round Reschitza is rather pretty, but 
more tame than what we had seen in other parts. 
We returned to Oravicza by a shorter route, riding 
the whole distance in one day, which we did easily, 
for the roads were not so bad, and it was not much 
over thirty miles. Id Hungary it is frequently more 
a question of roads than of actual distance. 


Election at Oravicza — Officialism — Reforms — Society — Ride to 
Szaszka — Fine views — Drenkova — Character of the Serbs — 
Svenica — Rough night walk through the forest. 

We got back to Oravicza just in time to witness 
an election, which had been a good deal talked 
about as likely to result in a row. There were 
two candidates in the field : one a representative of 
the Wallachian party ; the other a director of the 
States Eailway Company. In consequence of a 
serious disturbance which took place some years 
ago, the elections are now always held outside 
the town. The voting was in a warehouse adjoin- 
ing the railway station. A detachment of troops 
was there to keep order, in fact the two parties 
were divided from each other by a line of soldiers 
with fixed bayonets. It was extremely ridiculous. 
The whole affair was as tame as possible ; no 
more show of fighting than at a Quakers' meeting. 
Of course the States Railway representative had it 
all his own way, the officials, whose name is legion, 
voting for him to a man. A trainful of Wallacks 


arrived from some distant place, but their ardour for 
their own candidate was drowned in the unlimited 
beer provided for them by their opponents. 

From what I heard about politics, or rather about 
the Parliament, it seems to me that their House of 
Commons, like our own, suffers from too many 
talkers. The Hungarian is at all times a great 
talker, and when politics open the sluices of his 
mind, his speech is a perfect avalanche of words. 
His conversation is never of that kind that puts 
you in a state of antagonism, as a North German 
has so eminently the power of doing; on the 
contrary, the listener sympathises whether he will 
or no, but on calmer reflection one's judgment is 
apt to veer round again. 

The members of the House of Commons number 
441, and of these 39 are Croats, who are allowed 
to use their own language by special privilege. 
The members are paid five florins a-day when the 
House is sitting, and a grant of four hundred florins 
a -year is made for lodgings. There is this 
peculiarity about the Hungarian Parliament : 
hereditary members of the Upper House can if 
they choose offer themselves for election in the 
Lower House. Many of the hereditary peers do so, 
meanwhile resigning as a matter of course their 
seat in the Upper Chamber. 


The reform of 1848 extended the franchise so far 
that in point of fact it only stops short of manhood 
suffrage. The property qualification of a voter is in 
some cases as low as a hundred florins yearly income. 
Keligious and political liberty was granted to all 
denominations. The disabilities of the Jews were 
suffered to remain a few years later; but in 1867 
they were entirely removed, and at the present 
moment several of the most active members of 
Parliament are of the Jewish persuasion. Elections 
are triennial, an arrangement not approved by many 
true patriots, who complain that members think 
more of what will be popular with the constituents, 
whom they must so soon meet again, than of the 
effect of their votes on measures that concern the 
larger interests of the State. 

Oravicza was so seductive — with its pleasant 
society; its " land parties," as they call picnics; its 
evening dances, enlivened by gipsy music — that I 
remained on and on from want of moral courage to 
tear myself away. I had thoughts of changing my 
plans altogether, and of devoting myself to a serious 
study of the minerals of the Banat, making gay little 
Oravicza my head-centre. Looking back after the 
lapse of sober time, I doubt if science would have 
gained much. Well, well, I made up my mind to 
go. " The world was all before me," but I — left 


my paradise alone. I had no fair Eve " hand in 
hand" to help my wandering steps. 

I do think that packing one's portmanteau is 
the most prosaic thing in life. Shirts and coats 
must be folded, and one's possessions have a way 
of increasing which makes packing a progressive 
difficulty. However, at last I did persuade my 
portmanteau to shut, and forthwith despatched it, 
with some other heavy things, to Hatszeg, a small 
town in Transylvania, where I intended to be in the 
course of ten days. 

I was now bound for Uibanya, in the Valea 
Tissovitza, a few miles from Orsova on the Danube. 
There is an English firm down there engaged in 
working the coal mines, and I had an introduc- 
tion to one of the partners. I rode from Oravicza 
to Szaszka — the place had become quite familiar 
to me by this time — and I slept there. The night 
was not long, for I left before sunrise. It is 
the only way to enjoy the ride ; for the middle of 
the day in July is really too hot for exertion in 
this part of the world, and I found it was best 
to rest during the great heat of the day. From 
Szaszka I pushed on to Moldova, and judging from 
my former experience of driving the same road, I 
must say I prefer the saddle infinitely. I should ob- 
serve that on leaving Szaszka I got into a dense mist 


on the top of the mountain. Fortunately I knew 
my bearings. When it cleared off I had a magnifi- 
cent view all the way, reaching the Danube about 
nine o'clock. Here I spent the day and night at 

the house of Mr G , with whom I was slightly 

acquainted, and who received me hospitably. The 
next morning very early I started for Svenica, a 
lovely ride along the Szechenyi road. I had been in 
the saddle from five to eleven a.m., and reaching 
Drenkova, I was not sorry to stop on account of the 
great heat. It has only a wretched inn, where 
myself and horse fared very badly. The Danube 
steamers are not unfrequently obliged to stop at 
Drenkova and reship their passengers into smaller 
boats. This happens when the water is low, and 
sometimes when the season is very dry the river has 
to be abandoned for the road. When the Eastern 
Question is settled a vast number of improvements 
are to be carried out on the Danube it is said. The 
first ought to be the deepening of the channel in this 
particular part of the river. There would surely 
be no great difficulty in removing the obstruc- 
tions caused by the rocks. But there are always 
political difficulties creeping up in this part of the 
world to prevent the carrying out of useful works. 

My siesta over, I was off again, soon after three 
p.m., on my way to Svenica. I had a splendid 


view of the river, and stopped my horse more than 
once to watch the boatmen at their perilous work of 
shooting the rapids. Getting to Svenica soon after 
six o'clock, I made inquiries about the distance to 
Uibanya. No two people agreed, but the chief spokes- 
man declared it was a couple of hours' walk, and 
he volunteered to show me the way. The inn was 
horribly dirty, as one might expect from the 
appearance of the village, which is inhabited entirely 
by Serbs, otherwise Eascians. It appears that a 
vast number of Slavs from Servia took refuge in 
Hungary at the end of the seventeenth century. Some 
were Eoman Catholics, but they were mostly of the 
Greek Church. A colony settled at Buda. Lady 
Mary Wortley Montague, writing from that town in 
1717, says that the Governor of Buda assured her 
that the Rascian colony without the walls would 
furnish him with 12,000 fighting men at any mo- 
ment. They were always a card in the hands of 
the Austrians against the Magyars. 

Leopold I. granted the Servian refugees very 
considerable privileges and immunities, causing 
thereby great jealousy among the Hungarians. 
Always favoured by the Government of Vienna, 
these people have invariably shown themselves pro- 
Austrian ; and in 1848 they were destined to be 
a thorn in the side of the proud Magyars, who 


despised them, and took no pains to disguise the 
feeling, even at a moment so singularly uu propitious 
as the eve of their own rupture with Austria. It 
seems that in the month of May in that eventful 
year the Eascians sent a deputation to Pesth, to the 
Diet, setting forth certain grievances and demand- 
ing redress. The Magyars rejected their petition 
with haughty contempt, " a grievous fault," says 
General Klapka in his history. The result was 
that the Kascian deputies returned home in a state 
of great disgust at their reception, and immediately 
took up arms against the Hungarians. This was 
before the Government of Vienna had thrown off 
the mask. These facts are not without significance 
at the present time. The Eascians are strongly 
imbued with ideas of Panslavism, and now disdain 
any other name than that of Servians ; it would be 
a great offence to call the humblest individual of 
the race by the old appellation of Eascian or Eatzen. 
These so-called Servian subjects of the crown of St. 
Stephen number about 800,000 ! 

The subject is worth mentioning at some length, 
because a good deal of confusion exists respecting 
this particular division of the great Slav family. 

Judging from what I saw of the inhabitants of 
Svenica, I think they have not progressed very far 
in the ways of civilisation. I could get nothing in 


the whole place but a piece of bread ; but I was not 
to be balked of my tea, so I entered the principal 
room in the wretched little inn, and proceeded to 
take out my cooking apparatus, I was obliged to 
content myself with a thick fluid, which they called 
water; no better was to be procured. Now it 
happens that my spirit-lamp, when it begins to boil 
up, makes a tremendous row for two or three 
minutes, as if it meant to burst up with a general 
explosion. This circumstance, and my other novel 
proceedings, had attracted a lot of idlers round the 
door, and before the tea-making was over a number 
of Serbs and Wallacks crowded into the room in a 
state of excited curiosity, and it was with difficulty 
that I defended my tea-machine from absolute dis- 
memberment. Though my horse and I had done 
a good day's work, I determined to push on to 
Uibanya, for it seemed to be not much more than 
a two hours' walk ; moreover, I had been warned of 
the bad reputation of the people in the village. I 
had heard it was not an uncommon trick with them 
to steal a traveller's horse in the night, and quietly 
ship him over the Danube into Servia. I had no 
fancy for losing my possessions in this way, so 
altogether it seemed better to go on. 

When I started with the guide I had hired from 
Svenica, there was still a good half-hour before sun- 


set. We commenced at once climbing a very steep 
and stony path, where I had to lead my horse ; 
indeed at times it was very much like getting my 
horse over the top of a high-pitched roof, if such 
an exploit were possible. We shortly lost all trace 
of a path. I turned several times to look at the 
fine glimpses of the Danube far below us. Arriving 
at a fringe of wood, I was not a little surprised to 
see emerge from thence a sturdy Wallack, carrying 
the usual long staff, armed with an axe at one end. 
I say surprised, because he at once joined in with us, 
and though I had not seen him during our climb, 
I had my strong suspicions that he had followed us 
all the way. My guide spoke a little German, and 
I demanded of him in a sharp tone what the other 
fellow meant by joining us. My guide answered 
that he was afraid to return alone, for that pres- 
ently we should get into " the forest, where it would 
be as dark as a cave," and he had asked the other 
man to come with us from Svenica. As accord- 
ing to his own account he had traversed the forest 
for nineteen years, I thought he might very well 
have gone back alone ; besides, if there was any 
truth in what he said, why should he have made a 
mystery about his companion till we were some way 
on our journey ? 

We were now on the outskirts of a thick forest, the 


sun had set in great beauty, but every hue of colour 
had now faded from "the trailing clouds of glory ;" 
faded, indeed, so quickly that before the fact of 
twilight could be realised, it was already night ! 
It was literally dark as a cave when we pene- 
trated into the forest. My guide had a lantern, 
which he lighted ; for it would, indeed, have been 
impossible to make any progress without the light. 
Though we were again in a path, the way was 
frequently barred by the trunks of fallen trees. 
We were still ascending, occasionally coming upon 
a steep rough bit, difficult for the horse on account 
of the loose stones. I think we must have looked 
very much like a party of smugglers. The ex- 
forester walked first, swinging his lantern as he 
moved ; then came the Wallack volunteer, stumping 
along with axe-headed staff. He wanted very much 
to fall into the rear, but this I would not allow, and 
in a resolute tone ordered him forward. I followed 
with my little grey horse close upon the heels of 
my companions, keeping all the time a keen and 
suspicious eye upon their movements. They spoke 
together occasionally, but I was profoundly ignorant 
of what they said, not understanding a word of 

Where it was anyhow possible we went at a good 
pace, but the underwood and fallen trees hindered 


us a good deal. My guide told me to look out for 
wolves. These forests are said to be full of them 
in summer, and he added that a lot of pigs belong- 
ing to a neighbour of his had been carried off by 
the wolves only the night before. I took this 
opportunity of telling him that I was a dead shot, 
pointing to my revolver, which was handy ; adding 
a piece of information that I made much of, namely, 
that I was expected at Uibanya. 

The doubts I felt about the honesty of the guide 
and the other fellow were increased by a suspicion 
that they were leading me the wrong way. We 
had been three hours in the forest, always ascending. 
Now I knew that my destination was situated in a 
valley. I asked repeatedly when we should get 
there, and invariably came the same short answer, 
" Grleich" (directly). I noticed that we were steadily 
walking in the same direction, for the trees being 
less thick I could keep my eye on the Polar star : 
this was so far satisfactory. Presently I saw a 
light or two in the distance, and before long we 
came to a cottage, the first in what turned out to 
be the little village of Eibenthal. Here we came 
upon a party of miners, who gave me the pleasant 
information that we were still an hour's walk from 
Uibanya ! There was nothing for it but to go on. 
I confess I breathed more freely in the open ; we 


were quite clear of the forest now. On we went, a 
regular tramp, tramp, through a long valley skirted 
with woods on either side. This last part of the 
walk seemed interminable. It was eighteen hours 
since I had started in the morning. I was physically- 
weary, and I really believe I went off to sleep for 
a second or two, though my legs kept up their 
automatic motion. I am sure I must have slept, 
for I had a notion, like one has sometimes in sleep, 
of extraordinary extension of time. It seemed to 
me that for years of my life I had done nothing 
else than walk under the starlit sky into a vast 
cave of black darkness, which only receded farther 
and farther as the swinging of the lamp advanced 
with its monotonous vibration of light. 

It was just midnight when I descried a faint light 
in the distance. It grew as we tramped on. I 
knew therefore it was no deceptive star setting in 
the horizon, but the welcome firelight of a human 
habitation. This time it was my goal — Uibanya ! 
I stopped for a moment and fired off a couple of 
shots to announce our approach, whereupon some 
of the people in the house rushed out to see what 
was up, and I made myself known by an English 
"halloo," and out of the darkness came a voice say- 
ing, "All right." 

"All's well that ends well," I said to myself as 


I paid my guide for his night's work. I looked 
round for the Wallack, but the fellow had sloped 

I was most kindly and hospitably received, 
and, ye gods, with what an appetite I ate the 
excellent supper quickly prepared for me ! 


Hospitable welcome at Uibanya— Excursion to the Servian side of 
the Danube — Ascent of the Stierberg — Bivouac in the woods — 
Magnificent views towards the Balkans — Fourteen eagles dis- 
turbed — Wallack dance. 

A couple of days after my arrival at Uibanya, my 

friend F kindly arranged a little expedition 

into Servia, with the object of making the ascent of 
the Stierberg, a mountain of respectable elevation, 
commanding very fine views. Our guide was the 
postmaster of Plavishovitza, who professed a know- 
ledge of the country round about. We drove 
down to the Danube, and there crossed the river 
in a primitive " dug-out," and almost immediately 
commenced the ascent of the Stierberg. It became 
quite dark by the time we got half-way up the 
mountain ; this we were prepared for, having made 
arrangements for camping out the night. We 
had brought with us an ample store of provisions, 
not forgetting our plaids. The heat was so great 
when we started that we dispensed with coats, and 


even waistcoats, and went on rejoicing in the cool 
freedom of our shirt-sleeves. Each wore a broad 
leather waist-belt, stuck round with revolvers and 
bowie-knives. I believe we looked like a couple 
of the veriest brigands. Had we only been spotted 
by a " correspondent/' I make little doubt that we 
should have been telegraphed as " atrocities " to the 
London evening papers. 

The more civilisation closes round one, the more 
enjoyable is an occasional " try back" into barbarism. 
This feeling made the mere fact of camping out 
seem delightful. Our first care was to select a 
suitable spot ; we found a clearing that promised 
well, and here we made a halt. We deposited our 
batterie de cuisine, arranged our plaids, and then 
proceeded to make a fire with a great lot of dried 
sticks and logs of wood. The fire was soon crack- 
ling and blazing away in grand style, throwing out 
mighty tongues of flame, which lit up the dark 
recesses of the forest. 

Now came the supper, which consisted of robber- 
steak and tea. I always stuck to my tea as the 
most refreshing beverage after a long walk or ride. 
I like coffee in the morning before starting — good 
coffee, mind ; but in the evening there is nothing 
like tea. The robber-steak is capital, and deserves 
an " honourable mention" at least: it is composed 


of small bits of beef, bacon, and onion strung alter- 
nately on a piece of stick ; it is seasoned with 
pinches of paprika and salt, and then roasted over 
the fire, the lower end of the stick being rolled 
backwards and forwards between your two palms 
as you hold it over the hot embers. It makes a 
delicious relish with a hunch of bread. 

Our camp - fire and its surroundings formed a 
romantic scene. We had three Serbs with us as 

attendants, and there was F and myself, all 

seated in a semicircle to windward of the smoke. 
The boles of the majestic beech-trees surrounding 
us rose like stately columns to support the green 
canopy above our heads, and in the interstices of 
the leafy roof were visible spaces of sky, so deeply 
blue that the hue was almost lost in darkness; but 
out of the depths shone many a bright star in 
infinite brilliancy. The scene was picturesque in 
the highest degree. The flickering firelight, our 
Serbians in their quaint dresses moving about 
the gnarled roots and antlered branches of 
the trees, upon which the light played fitfully, 
and the mystery of that outer rim of darkness, 
all helped to impress the fancy with the charm of 

After supper was finished, and duly cleared 
away, we all disposed ourselves for sleep, taking 


care to have the guns ready at hand, for we might 
be disturbed by a wolf or a bear on his nightly 
rounds. Our attendants had previously collected 
some large logs of wood, large almost as railway- 
sleepers, to keep up a good fire through the night. 
Wrapping my plaid round me, I laid myself 
down, confident that I should sleep better than in 
the softest feather bed. I gave one more look at 
the romantic scene, and then turned on my side to 
yield to the drowsiness of honest fatigue. 

But, alas ! there was no sleep for me. I had hardly 
closed my eyes when I was attacked by a regiment 
of mosquitoes. I was so tormented by these brutes 
that I never slept a wink. I sat up the greater part 
of the night battling with them ; and what provoked 

me more was the tranquillity of F 's slumbers. 

I could bear it no longer, so at three a.m. I woke 
him up, saying it was time for us to be stirring if 
we wanted to get to the top of the mountain to see 
the sun rise. I believe he thought I need not have 
called him so early, and grumbled a little, which 
was very unreasonable, for the fellow had been 
sleeping for hours to my knowledge. Eousing our 
Serbs, we set them about making preparations 
for breakfast; but when the water was boiled and 
the tea made, it turned out to be utterly undrink- 
able. The water-cask had had sour wine in it, and 


the water was spoiled. We consoled ourselves with 
the hope that we might get some sheep's milk on 
the mountain. 

We reached the summit of the Stierberg before 
five o'clock ; it has no great elevation, but the 
position commands magnificent views of all the 
surrounding country. Advancing to the verge of 
the precipice overlooking the Danube, a sheer wall 
of rock 2000 feet in depth, we signalled our arrival 
by discharging our rifles simultaneously. This "set 
the wild echoes flying." Each cliff and scaur of 
the narrow gorge flung back the ringing sound 
till the sharp reverberations stirred the whole defile. 
Before the fusillade had ceased we beheld a sight 
I shall never forget. The sound had disturbed a 
colony of eagles, who make their nests in these 
rocky fissures. They flew out in every direction 
from the face of the cliff, and went soaring round 
and round, evidently in much alarm at the 
unwonted noise. We counted fourteen of these 
magnificent birds. I wanted to get a shot at one, 
but they never came near enough. After circling 
round for several minutes they flew with one 
accord to the opposite woods, and were no more 

The view from the Stierberg is splendid. On every 
side were stretches of primeval forest. Bounding 


the horizon on the north-east we made out the 
Transylvanian Alps ; to the south lay Servia, and 
more distant still the Balkan Mountains. As the 
sun rose higher, lighting up in a marvellous way all 
the- details of this fair landscape, we could see far 
eastward a strip of the Danube flashing in the 

We turned reluctantly from the grand panorama, 
but we began to feel the distressing effects of thirst. 
We had failed to procure any sheep's milk, but the 
postmaster declared that when we got back to our 
camping-place we should be able to find some fresh 
water. Arrived at this pleasant spot, we rested 
under the beech-trees, and sent off two of the Serbs 
to look for water. After waiting some time one of 
them brought us some, but it was from a stagnant 
pool, alive with animalculae, quite unfit to drink. I 
never remember suffering so much from thirst. The 
heat was excessive, but happily before reaching the 
Danube we found a delicious spring gushing out 
from the limestone rock. It was an indescribable 
refreshment for thirsty souls. We further regaled 
ourselves with a good meal at the village on the 
Hungarian side of the Danube, after crossing again 
in the "dug-out." 

The pope of the village entered into conversation 
with us, and finding I was a stranger he ordered a 


Wallack dance for our amusement. The costumes 
of the women were picturesque, but the dance itself 
was a slow affair, very unlike the lively czardas of 
the Magyar peasant. 


A hunting expedition proposed — Drive from Uibanya to Orsova — 
Oriental aspect of the market-place — Cserna Valley — Hercules- 
Bad, Mehadia — Post-office mistakes — Drive to Karansebes — 
Rough customers en route — Lawlessness — Fair at Karansebes — 
Podolian cattle — Ferocious dogs. 

During my stay at Uibanya the Forstmeister 
(head of the forest department) from Karansebes 
came over on business, and he told us there was to 
be a shooting expedition on the Alps in his district. 
He further invited us to take part in it, and I gladly 
accepted, as it fitted in very well indeed with my 
plans. Karansebes is directly on the route to 
Transylvania, whither I was bound. The district 
we were to shoot over is the rocky border-land be- 
tween Hungary and Koumania. My friend F 

agreed to accompany me, and on our way we pro- 
posed visiting the celebrated baths of Mehadia. 
Early one morning we started for Orsova, a drive 
of thirty miles, splendid scenery all the way. The 
latter part of our journey was by the side of the 
Danube, on the Szechenyi road again. 


We passed a number of hay-ricks in trees, which 
I have before described. Some of them were built 
up in the form of an inverted cone. The luxuriance 
of the foliage is very striking. Nothing can exceed 
the beauty of the wild vines so frequent on the 
banks of the Danube. They fall in graceful 
festoons from the trees ; sometimes they reach 
across to the trees on the other side of the road, 
forming a complete arch of greenery. In the autumn 
the vine leaves turn to a glowing red, like the 
Virginian creeper, and then the effect of this 
mass of rich colouring is indeed glorious. Mean- 
while gay butterflies of rare form fluttered about 
among the trailing vines, and bright green lizards 
darted in and out of the stone wall. Then an eagle 
or a vulture would swoop down from the heights, 
and settle himself on some pinnacle of rock, where 
he remained, motionless as a stuffed bird. 

When we reached Orsova we only stopped long 
enough to get some dinner and take the usual 
siesta. This place is on the frontier ; three miles 
farther down you pass out of Hungary into 
Koumanian territory. Had we stayed any time 
we should certainly have gone to see Trajan's 
bridge, about eighteen miles hence. The so-called 
" Iron Gates" are just below Orsova. The designa- 
tion is a misnomer, for the river ceases to be pent 


up between a defile, the hills recede from the 
shore, and the " Gates " are merely ledges of 
rock peculiarly difficult for navigation. Orsova 
is celebrated as the place where the regalia of 
Hungary were concealed by Kossuth and his 
friends from 1849 to 1853. The iron chest which 
held the palladium of the kingdom, the sacred 
crown of St Stephen, was buried in a waste spot, 
covered with willows, not far from the road. 
There is a somewhat Oriental look about Orsova. 
In the market-place there is a profusion of bright- 
coloured stuffs, prayer-carpets, and Turkish slippers. 
A narrow island of no great length, just below 
Orsova, is still held by the Turks. There is a small 
mosque with minarets visible amongst a group of 
the funeral cypress - tree, so characteristic of the 
presence of the Turk. 

Our road to Mehadia was away from the river, 
following instead the lead of a lateral valley. As 
we drove out of Orsova we passed a lot of Wallack 
huts forming; a kind of suburb. These huts are 
built of wattles stuccoed with mud, always having 
on one side of the dwelling a space enclosed by 
stockades some ten feet high ; this is a necessary 
protection for their animals against the depredations 
of w T olves and bears, which abound here. 

Leaving this village we continued our way 


through the Cserna Valley, which has few signs 
of cultivation beyond the orchards and vineyards 
that climb up the hillsides of the narrow ravine. 
On our left we passed a ruined aqueduct of 
Turkish origin, eleven arches still remaining. As 
we proceeded, the valley narrowed considerably, 
and the scenery became more wild and striking. 
Here vegetation is in its richest profusion ; the 
parasitical plants are surpassingly graceful, wreath- 
ing themselves over rocks and trees. 

Mehadia, or more strictly, Hercules-Bad, is the 
most fashionable bath in Hungary. The village 
of Mehedia must not be confounded with it, for 
it lies at a distance of six miles thence. The 
situation of Hercules -Bad is extremely romantic. 
Above the narrow rocky valley rise bare lime- 
stone peaks, girdled with rich forests of every 
variety of foliage. There are two kinds of springs, 
the sulphurous and the saline. The Hercules source 
bursts out from a cleft of the rock in such an 
immense volume that it is said to yield 5000 cubic 
feet in an hour. The water has to be cooled before 
it is used, the natural heat being as much as 131° 
Fahrenheit. Its efficacy is said to be so great 
that the patient while in the bath "feels the evil 
being boiled out of him " ! Some of the visitors had 
not yet had their turn of cooking, I suppose, or if 


they had been boiled, were rather underdone, for 
I met a good many gouty and rheumatic patients 
still in the hobbling condition. 

The country round Mehadia is so wild, both in 
regard to the scenery and to the native population, 
that the contrast of dropping suddenly into a 
fashionable watering-place is very curious. This 
bath is much frequented for pleasure and health by 
the luxury-loving Roumanians, who invariably dis- 
play the latest extravagance of Parisian fashion. 
Men in patent-leather boots devoted to cards and 
billiards, while in the immediate neighbourhood of 
glorious scenery, with bear and chamois shooting to 
be had for the asking, seem to me " an unknown 
species," as Voltaire said of the English. From 
what I learned of the ways of the place it seems 
that the Magyar and Transylvanian visitors keep 
quite aloof from the Eoumanian coterie ; they 
have never anything pleasant to say of one another. 
At Boseg, a bath in the Eastern Carpathians 
which I visited later, the separation is so complete 
that the Roumanians go at one period of the season 
and the Hungarian visitors at another. 

It had always been my intention to stay a few 
days at the Hercules-Bad, and I had given the place 
as an address for English letters. Accordingly I 
presented myself at the poste restante. Seeing that 


I was a Britisher, the postmaster gave me all the 
letters he possessed with English postmarks. Many 
of them were of considerable antiquity. Out of the 
goodly pile I selected some half-dozen that bore my 
name ; but I was greatly surprised to come across 
one that had made a very bad shot for its destina- 
tion. It bore the simple name of some poor Jack- 
tar, with the address "H.M.S. Hercules." 

The Eomans had their etablissement here. The 
present name comes from the " Thermae Herculis " 
of classic times. There are many interesting 
remains here — fragments of altars, sculptured 
capitals, and stones with inscriptions, all telling the 
same story — the story of Eoman dominion and 

Just then we had no time for archaeology, for 
we wanted to push on to Karansebes, and we 
stayed only a day and a half at Mehadia. As it 
was more than we could comfortably manage to 
do the whole distance in a day, we arranged to 
drive as far as Terregova and sleep there. We left 
Mehadia early in the afternoon, F 's groom rid- 
ing my horse. The road was excellent — all the 
roads are in the districts of the Military Frontier. 
As an example of the quick temper of the Wallacks, 
I will mention a little incident which happened on 
the road. We met some of these people, and one 


of them, who was looking another way, stumbled 
most awkwardly against the groom's horse, and very 
nearly met with an accident. Though it was so 
clearly his own fault, he had hardly recovered him- 
self when, raising his axe, he was about to strike 
our servant on the head. Meanwhile another fellow 
seized a big stone, which I believe was going to 
make a target of the same head. Luckily I turned, 
and seeing the scuffle, I was out with my revolver 
in a moment, pointing it at the man with the axe. 
He understood my language, and made a hasty 

retreat. F said he had no doubt it would 

have gone badly with the groom if the distance 
between us had been greater. 

We were in for adventures in a small way that 
evening. Just after sunset, when it was already 
rather dark in the valley, we found ourselves sud- 
denly stopped by a man, who leaped out from behind 
a rock, seized the horses, and with a powerful grasp 

brought them down on their haunches. F had 

the reins, so I jumped down and made straight at 
the fellow, revolver in hand. I imagine he did not 
expect to find us armed, or he found us literally 
too many for him, but diving into the bushes, he 
was gone even quicker than he came. 

We had hardly got the horses into full trot again, 
when we noticed two cartloads of Wallacks driving 


side by side on in front of us. When we came up 
they would not let us pass, and continued this little 
game for more than ten minutes, notwithstanding 
all our expostulations. They were driving much 

slower than ourselves, and F began to lose 

patience ; so holding the horses well in hand, he told 
me to fire off my revolver in the air. After this 
they thought proper to draw aside, but even then 
leaving us so little room that we risked our necks in 
passing them in a very awkward corner. I was told 
afterwards by the postmaster of Karansebes that a 
diligence had fallen over the precipice at this very 
place, only a very short time before, owing to the 
Wallack drivers purposely obstructing the road. 
Such are the Wallacks — I beg their pardon, Rou- 
manians ! 

When we got to Terregova, we were glad to find 
quite a decent inn, the Wilder Mann, kept by civil 
people. After supper we had a chat with our 
hostess, who being a regular gossip, was very pleased 
to tell us a lot of stories about the wild character of 
the country-people. She was very sorry that the 
frontier was no longer under the Austrian military 
rule, for, she said, having been accustomed to the 
strict military system so long, the Wallacks, now 
they have more liberty, have become utterly law- 
less, and exceedingly troublesome to their German 


neighbours. She added that the gendarmes, who 
were supposed to keep order in the district, were 
far too few to be of any real use. She com- 
plained bitterly against the Wallacks for firing the 
forests, and they had become much worse since 
'48. " In fact the time will come/' she said, 
" when wood will be scarce, and then everybody 
will suffer ; but they don't think, and they don't 
care, and just lay their hands on anything." 

The Government certainly ought to look to the 
preservation of the forests, and above all they 
ought to make the law respected amongst a popula- 
tion which is so little advanced in civilisation as to 
be indifferent to the first principles of order. The 
Wallacks want education, and above all they want 
a decent priesthood, before they can make any 
sound progress. With all their ignorance and law- 
lessness, it is curious that they pride themselves on 
being descendants of the ancient Eomans, ignoring 
their " Dacian sires." 

The next day we went on to Karansebes — a good 
road and charming scenery. This is the highroad 
into Transylvania, called the Eisenthor Pass ; but it 
hardly merits the name of pass, inasmuch as it only 
crosses the spur of the hills. The distance from 
Orsova on the Danube to Hatszeg in Transylvania 
is 110 miles: the district is known as the " Eo- 



manen Banat," and, as the name imports, is prin- 
cipally inhabited by Wallacks, otherwise Bou- 

We arrived at Karansebes in the afternoon, and 
by good-luck it chanced to be fair-day. This is a 
central market for a considerable extent of country, 
so that there is always a great gathering of people. 
In driving into the town we passed a long bridge 
which crosses a low-lying meadow, the central 
arch being sufficient to span the stream, at least in 
summer. From this elevation we had a capital 
view of the fair, which was being held in these 
meadows, and could look down leisurely on the 
whole scene ; and a very novel and amusing sight 
it was. 

There were hundreds of people ; and what a 
variety of races and diversity of costumes ! The 
Wallack women, in their holiday suits, were the most 
picturesque. Many of them were handsome, and 
they have generally a very superior air to the men ; 
they are better dressed and more civilised looking. 
There were a sprinkling of Magyars in braided 
coats, or with white felt cloaks richly embroidered 
in divers colours. But the blue-eyed, fair-com- 
plexioned German was far more numerous. The 
Magyar element is very much in the minority in 
this particular part of Hungary. The Jews and the 


gipsies were there in great numbers — they always 
are at fairs — in the quality of horse- dealers and 
vendors of wooden articles for the kitchen. The 
Jew is easily distinguished by his black corkscrew 
ringlets, and his brown dressing-gown coat reaching 
to his heels. This ancient garment suits him " down 
to the ground ; " in fact his yellow visage and greasy 
hat would not easily match with anything more 
cleanly. These Jewish frequenters of fairs are, as 
a rule, of the lowest class, hailing either from the 
Marmaros Mountains in North-Eastern Hungary, 
or from Galicia. 

The fair is really a very important exhibition of 
the products and manufactures of the country, and 
it is well worth the attention of the stranger, who 
may pass on with the motley crowd through streets 
of stalls and booths. One annexe is devoted to 
furniture, from a winged wardrobe down to a 
wooden spoon. In another part you see piles of 
Servian rugs, coarse carpets, sheepskin bundas, 
hairy caps of a strange peaked form, broad hats 
made of reed or rush, and the delightful white felt 
garments before mentioned, which are always em- 
broidered with great taste and skill. Horses, cows, 
and pigs are also brought here in great numbers to 
exchange owners. The long-horned cattle are per- 
haps the most striking feature in the whole fair. 


They are white, with a little grey on the necks> 
flanks, and buttocks. Oxen are much used for 
hauling purposes as well as for the plough. A pair 
of oxen, it is considered, will do the work of four 

Professor Wrightson says : " The Podolian is 
an aboriginal race, descended from the wild urox 
(Bos primigenius). The race is remarkable for its 
capability of resisting influences of climate, and its 
contentedness with poor diet. . . . The Hungarian 
oxen are considered by naturalists as the best living 
representative of the original progenitors of our 
domestic cattle." Of the buffalo the same writer 
says : "It was introduced into Hungary by Attila ; 
it is found in the lowlands, on both sides of the 
Danube and the Theiss, Lower Hungary, and Tran- 
sylvania. In 1870 there were upwards of 58,000 in 
Transylvania, and more than 14,000 in Hungary." 1 

Later in my tour, when at Klausenburg, I had an 
opportunity of seeing an extensive dairy where up- 
wards of a hundred buffalo cows were kept. The 
farm alluded to is admirably managed, and, I am 
told, yields very profitable returns. 

It is the opinion of Professor Wrightson that cattle 
are diminishing in Hungary owing to the breaking 

1 ' Report on the Agriculture of the Austro-Hungarian Empire,' 
Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society, vol. x. Part xi. No. xx. 


up of pastures and the recurrence of rinderpest. He 
says he does not think that the English market can 
look to Hungary for a supply of cattle at present. 
This gentleman did not, I believe, visit Tran- 
sylvania, and I am inclined to think the supply 
from that part of the kingdom is greatly on the 
increase ; there the pastures are not in process of 
being turned into arable land, and the rise in prices 
has given an impetus to the profitable employment 
of capital in raising stock. 

In walking round the fair, we took notice of the 
horses. I could have made a better bargain than I 
did in Servia. A useful cart-horse could be bought, 
I found, for about six or seven pounds. I daresay I 
could have picked out a few from the lot fit for rid- 
ing, but of course they were rough animals, mere 
peasant horses. Some of the colts, brought in a 
string fresh from the mountains, were wild, untamed- 
looking creatures ; but hardly as wild as the Wal- 
lacks who led them, dressed in sheepskin, and 
followed each by his savage wolf-like dog. The 
dogs are very formidable in Hungary. It is never 
safe to take a walk, even in the environs of a town, 
without a revolver, on account of these savage brutes, 
who, faithful to their masters, are liable to make the 
most ferocious attacks on strangers. This special 
kind of dog is in fact most useful — to the shepherd 


on the lonely puszta, to the keeper of the vineyard 
through the night-watches, when the wild boar 
threatens his ravages — and in short he acts the part 
of rural police generally. 

In Hungary, as elsewhere, there are dogs of kindly 
nature and gentle culture. I can record a curious 
instance of reasoning power in a dog named "Jockey," 
who is well known at Buda Pest. He has the habit 
of crossing over from Pest to Buda every morning of 
his life in one or another of the little steamboats 
that ply backwards and forwards. He regularly 
takes his walk over there, and then returns as before 
by steamer. This is his practice in summer ; but 
when winter arrives, and the ice on the Danube 
stops the traffic of the steamboats, then Jockey 
has recourse to the bridge. I believe there is no 
doubt of this anecdote. Another instance of sagacity 
is attributed to him. His master lost a lawsuit 
through the rascality of his attorney ; Jockey 
feels so strongly on the subject that he snarls and 
growls whenever a lawyer enters his master's house. 
Here, of course, the instinct is stronger than the 
powers of discrimination. 


Post-office at Karansebes — Good headquarters for a sportsman — 
Preparations for a week in the mountains — The party starting 
for the hunt — Adventures by the way — Fine trees — Game — 
Hut in the forest — Beauty of the scenery in the Southern 

We put up at the Griinen Baum, the principal inn 
at Karansebes. My first business was to worry 
everybody about my guns, which I had telegraphed 
should be sent from Bucla Pest to this place. I am 
afraid the postmaster will never hear the name 
of an Englishman without associating the idea of 
a fussy, irritable, impatient being, such as I was, 
about my guns. Of course it was very provoking 
that they had not arrived. This postmaster was a 
pattern official, an honour to his calling ; he not 
only bore with me, but he offered to lend me a gun 
if mine did not come. In Germany there is a say- 
ing, "So grob wie ein postbeamter" The postmaster 
of Karansebes was a glorious exception to the rule. 

On one occasion, while I was waiting in the office 
for an answer to one of the many telegrams that I had 


despatched, a peasant woman came in with a letter 
without an address. The postmaster seeing this, 
and thinking she could not write, asked her to whom 
he should address the letter. She was dreadfully in- 
dignant with him for his well-meant offer, and said, 
" My son knows all about it — it is no business of 

" But I can't forward it without an address/' ob- 
jected the postmaster. 

" Yes, you must," she rejoined, getting more and 
more angry — " you must ; that's what you are paid 
for doing." 

Here some other people came to the rescue, and 
by dint of all talking at once for full twenty minutes, 
they induced her to give her son's address ; but it 
was a clear case of "convinced against her will," 
for as she quitted the office she turned round and 
said, with a shake of the head, "It's all very well 
to put that ; but my son will know who it is from." 

Karansebes is not at all a bad place as head- 
quarters for the sportsman. In the neighbourhood 
there is very good snipe-shooting in spring and 
autumn. The fishing too is excellent for trout and 
grayling. The bear, the wolf, and the chamois are 
to be met with on the heights, which form this 
portion of the great horseshoe of the Carpathians. 

The day before our expedition we were occupied 


with a few necessary preparations. When these 
matters were settled to our satisfaction, we went off 
in good time to secure a few hours' sleep, as we were 
to start at four a.m. 

F and I were up in capital time, eager for 

the day's work, and anxious, moreover, not to keep 
the rest of the party waiting. There was an 
Austrian general, however, amongst the number, 
and therefore we might safely have slept another 
hour. The morning was very unpromising, the rain 
descended in a dull persistent downpour. We tried 
to hope it was the pride of the morning. The 
prospect was dreary enough to damp the spirits of 
some of our party. One man found that urgent 
private affairs called him hence ; another averred 
he had an inflammatory sore throat. I expected 
a third would say he had married a wife and 
could not come. Happily, however, the weather 
cleared a little as the morning advanced, and further 
desertions were arrested. 

At length the whole party got off in sundry 
leiterwagen, a vehicle which has no counterpart 
in England, and the literal rendering of a ladder- 
waggon hardly conveys the proper notion of the 
thing itself. This long cart, it is needless to say, 
is without springs ; but it has the faculty of 
accommodating itself to the inequalities of the 


road in a marvellous manner. It has, moreover, a 
snake-like vertebrae, and even twists itself when 

My guns never came after all, and I was obliged 
to borrow. The one lent me had one barrel smooth- 
bore, the other rilled. 

We drove for some distance along the Hatszeg 
highroad, then turned off to the right. Continuing 
our course for some time, we came to the pretty little 
village of Morul, where we breakfasted. It was 
quite the cleanest and neatest Wallack settlement 
that I had seen at all. It is celebrated for the 
beauty of its women. Several very pretty girls in 
their picturesque costume were gathered round the 
village well, engaged in filling their classical- shaped 
pitchers. Every movement of their arms was grace 
itself. The action was not from the elbow, but from 
the shoulder, whereby one sees the arm extended in 
the curved line of beauty, instead of sticking out 
at a sharp angle, as with us Western races. 

The weather had improved considerably. Our 
breakfast, for which we halted on the further out- 
skirts of the village, was very agreeably discussed 
amidst much general good-humour. The peasants 
regarded us with frank undisguised curiosity, 
coming round to watch our proceedings. 

After leaving Morul w T e got really into the wilds. 


A very bad road led up through a magnificent 
valley, the scenery most romantic ; indeed every 
turn brought to view some new aspect, calling forth 
admiration. On our right was a fine trout-stream 
of that delicious brown tint welcome to the eye 
of the fisherman. At times the water was seen 
breaking over a rocky bed with much foam and fret, 
and then would find for itself a tranquil pool 
beneath the shadow of some mighty beech-tree. 

The foliage of the forest, which closed down upon 
the valley, was simply magnificent. The trees in 
the Southern Carpathians are far finer than those 
of the Austrian Alps ; they attain a greater aver- 
age height. The variety, too, was very striking in 
many places. The strip of green pasturage that 
bordered our road was fringed with weeping birch- 
trees, which gave a singular charm to the woodland 

A turn in the direction of the valley brought us 

within sight of the high range of mountains form- 
es o o 

ing the frontier between Hungary and Eoumania. 
Some of the higher summits were ominously covered 
with dirty clouds. It was observed that they were 
lifting, at least some of the most sanguine thought 
so. However, judging from my former experiences 
in Upper Austria and Styria, I could not say that 
I thought it was a good sign, supposing even they 


were lifting. I think myself there is better chance 
of fine weather in high regions when the clouds 
descend and disappear in the valleys. 

Coming shortly to the foot of the mountain, the 
Sarka, which is upwards of 6000 feet in height, 
we made a temporary halt. We had now to change 
our leiterwagen for horses. All signs of a road had 
long ceased. On the green knoll in front were a 
herd of shaggy mountain horses with their Wallack 
drivers — as wild a scene as could well be imagined. 
Here we unpacked our various stores of provi- 
sions, fortified ourselves with a good dinner, and 
made necessary arrangements for the change of 
locomotion. There was some trouble in properly 
distributing the things for the pack-horses. Care 
had to be taken to give each horse his proper 
weight and no more. It was also very important 
to see that the packages were rightly balanced to 
avoid shifting. 

I had left my own horse at Karansebes, because 

he was in need of rest ; so F and I had to 

select horses from amongst the promiscuous lot 
brought up by the "hunt." We chose out a 
couple of decent-looking animals — indeed I rather 
prided myself on my selection, drew attention to 

his good points, and rallied F on his less 

successful choice. 


At length everything was ready. Judging from the 
amount of baggage, the commissariat department 
was all right. The order of march was this: ten 
gentlemen, like so many knights on horseback with 
lances in rest, rode on in front, in Indian file : 
our long alpen-stocks really somewhat resembled 
lances. Each man had his gun slung behind. 
In the rear of these gallant knights came a dozen 
pack-horses heavily laden, each with his burden 
well covered up with sheepskins ; behind again 
followed a lot of Wallacks — these irregulars were to 
act as beaters. 

On we went in this order for seven hours. The 
pace was so slow that I confess it made me impa- 
tient, but our path through the forest was too 
narrow and too steep to do more than walk our 
horses in single file. The character of the vegeta- 
tion visibly changed as we ascended. We left the 
oak and beech, and came upon a forest of pine-trees, 
and I thought of the lines — 

" This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the 
Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the 

The grey moss which hangs in such abundant fes- 
toons from the fir-trees has a most singular effect, 
almost weird at times. These ancients of the forest, 


with their long grey beards and hoary tresses, look 
very solemn indeed in the gloaming. 

What unheeded wealth in these majestic trees, 
which grow but to decay ! Enormous trunks lay 
on every side : some had passed into the rottenness 
which gives new life ; and here fungi of bright and 
varied hues, grey lichen, and green moss preserved 
together the contour of the gigantic stem, which, 
prostrate and decayed now, had once held its head 
high amongst the lordlings of the forest. 

In the last century these woods were tenanted by 
wild aurochs and the ibex, but both are extinct 
now in Hungary. Red-deer and the roe are still 
common enough. " The wild-cat, fox, badger, 
otter, marten, and other smaller carnivora are 
pretty numerous." Mr Danford 1 goes on to say 
that " feathered game is certainly not abundant. 
There are a good many capercailzie in the quiet 
pine-woods, pretty high up, but they are only to be 
got at during the pairing season. Hazel-grouse too 
are common in the lower woods, but are not easily 
found unless the call-system be adopted. Black 
game are scarcely worth mentioning as far as sport 
is concerned. Partridges scarce, not preserved, 
and the hooded crows and birds of prey making life 

1 The Ibis, vol. v., 1875. The Birds of Transylvania. By 
Messrs. Danford and Brown. 


rather hard for them." Mr Danford further speaks 
of the chamois-eagle as "not rare in the higher 
mountains. " The fisher-eagle " generally distri- 
buted.'' The king-eagle also "not rare." The 
carrion-vulture " common throughout the country," 
also the red-footed falcon. At one time and another 
I have myself seen most of these birds in the 
Carpathians, which form the frontier between Tran- 
sylvania and Eoumania. 

Meanwhile I must resume the description of 
our march, which was a very slow affair. As 
we ascended, the trees decreased in size. We 
had long ago left the deciduous foliage behind 
us ; but the pines themselves were smaller, inter- 
spersed with what is called " crooked timber," 
which grows in grotesque dwarf-like forms. The 
forest at last diminished into mere sparse shrubs, 
and finally we reached the treeless region, called 
in German the Alpen, where there is rich pastur- 
age for cattle and sheep during the summer. We 
were now on tolerably level ground, and I thought 
we should get a trot out of our wretched horses, 
but no, not a step faster would they go. I believe 
we went at the rate of about two miles and a half 

an hour. We tried everything — I mean F 

and I— to get the animals to stretch out over the 
turf ; but they set to kicking vigorously, backing and 


rearing, so that to avoid giving annoyance to our 
companions, we were obliged to give in, and let the 
brutes go their own pace. 

We had gone but a very little way on the Alpen 
before we found ourselves enveloped in a thick mist, 
added to which the track itself became uncertain. 
We went on : if the saying " slow but sure " has 
any truth in it, we ought to have been sure enough. 
My horse reminded me of the reply of the Somer- 
setshire farmer, who, when he was asked if his 
horse was steady, answered, " He be so steady that 
if he were a bit steadier he would not go at all." 
Notwithstanding that we moved like hay-stacks, 
and the cavalcade seemed to be treading on one an- 
other's heels, yet, ridiculous to say, we got separated 
from our baggage. Darkness set in, and with it a 
cold drizzling rain — not an animated storm that 
braces your nerves, but a quiet soaking rain, the 
sort of thing that takes the starch out of one's moral 

All at once I was aroused from my apathy by a 
shout from the front calling out to the cavalcade to 
halt. I must observe a fellow on foot was leading 
the way in quality of guide. A pretty sort of a 
guide he turned out to be. He had led us quite 
wrong, and in fact found all of a sudden that he 
was on the verge of a precipice ! 


There was a good deal of unparliamentary language, 
expressed in tones both loud and deep. It was an 
act of unwisdom, however, to stop there in a heap on 
the grassy slope of a precipice, swearing in chorus at 
the poor devil of a Wallack. I turned my horse up 
the incline, resolved to try back, hoping to regain 
the lost track. It was next to impossible to halt, 
for we had not even got our plaids with us — every- 
thing was with the baggage-horses. Of course " some 
one had blundered." We all knew that ! The guide 
stuck to it to the last that " he had not exactly lost 
his way." The fellow was incapable of a suggestion, 
and would have stood there arguing till doomsday 
if we had not sent him off with a sharp injunction 
to find some shepherds, and that quickly, who 
could take us to the rendezvous. Being summer 
time, there would be many shepherds about in 
different places on the Alpen, and the Wallack 
could hardly fail to encounter some herdkeeper 
before long. 

We waited, as agreed, on the same spot nearly an 
hour, and then we heard a great shouting to the 
right of us. This was the guide, who I believe 
must have been born utterly without the organ of 
locality. He had found some shepherds, he told us 
subsequently, not long after he had left us, but 
then the fool of a fellow could not find his way back 


to us, to the spot where we agreed to wait for him. 
There was a great deal of shouting before we could 
bring him to our bearings : the fog muffled the sound, 
adding to the perplexity. 

The shepherds now took us in tow. We had to 
go back some distance, and then make a sharp descent 
to the right, which brought us to the rendezvous, 
and we effected at last a junction with our lost lug- 
gage. Arriving at the hut, which had been pre- 
viously built for us, we were delighted to find a meal 
already prepared ; it was in fact a very elaborate 
supper, but I think we were all too exhausted to 
appreciate the details. I know I was very glad 
to wrap my plaid round me and stretch myself on 
the floor. 

The next morning we were up with the first streak 
of dawn. It was with some curiosity that I looked 
round at our impromptu dwelling and its surround- 
ings, upon which we had descended in total ob- 
scurity the night before. The position of our camp- 
ing-place was not badly chosen ; we were just within 
the girdle of forest above which rises the grassy 
Alpen. About forty yards to the left or north-east 
of us was a small stream, the boundary, it seems, 
between the Banat and Transylvania. We were pro- 
vided with two necessaries of life, wood and water, 
close at hand. 


The hut, however, was more picturesque than 
practical, as subsequent events proved. The 
Wallacks had constructed it by driving two 
strong posts into the ground about ten yards 
apart. A tree was placed across, with a couple 
of smaller supports, and on this was made on 
a rough framework a sloping roof to the wind- 
ward side. The roofing consisted entirely of leaves : 
it is called in German laubhiltte, but is in fact 
more of a parasol than an umbrella. I should have 
preferred a hut made of bark, such as I have seen 
used by shepherds and sportsmen in Styria. 

The interior of the hut had a droll appearance. 
Bacon, sausages, meal-bags, and various other things 
were hanging from pegs fastened into the supports 
of the roof ; and the gear belonging to ten sportsmen 
were stowed away somehow. The place might have 
passed for the head-centre of a band of brigands. 

The mountain on which we were encamped forms 
part of the western side of a long valley, at the 
bottom of which, quite 2000 feet below us, is a 
magnificent trout-stream. The sides of this valley 
are clothed with dense forests, with broken cliffs 
obtruding in places. The height of the Carpathians 
in this part of the range must not be taken as a 
gauge of the scenery, which quite equals in grandeur 
the higher Alps in many parts of Switzerland and 


the Tyrol. Comparisons are dangerous, for the 
lovers of Switzerland will silence me with glaciers 
and eternal snow; these advantages I must con- 
cede, still contending, however, for the extreme 
beauty and wildness of the Southern Carpathians. 
The characteristics of the scenery are due to the 
broken forms of the crystalline rocks, the singular 
occurrence of sharp limestone ridges, and the deep 
forest-clad valleys, traversed by mountain torrents, 
which everywhere diversify the scene. 


Chamois and bear bunting — First battue — Luxurious dinner 5000 
feet above the sea-level — Storm in the night — Discomforts — 
The bear's supper — The eagle's breakfast — Second and third 
day's shooting — Baking a friend as a cure for fever — Striking 
camp — View into Koumania. 

We started for our first battue in capital time, 
taking with us a crowd of Wallack beaters. Our 
places were appointed to us by the director of the 
hunt, and some of us had a stiffish climb before 
reaching the spot indicated. At a right angle to 
this valley there protrudes one of those character- 
istic limestone ridges ; it terminates in an abrupt 
precipice or declivity above the stream. My place 
was some half-way up, a good position ; for while 
I could see the course of the stream, 1 could com- 
mand a fair range of ground above me. 

It was impossible not to take note of the 
exquisite beauty of the whole scene, particularly 
as it then appeared. The sun breaking through 
the clouds, threw his sharply-defined rays of light 
into the depths of the misty defile, playing upon 


the foam of the water, and giving life and colour 
to the hanging woods. I hardly took it in at the 
time, but rather remembered the details afterwards ; 
for my thoughts were occupied in trying to judge 
the distance up to which I might fire with any 
chance of success — distances are always very decep- 
tive on the mountains. 

I must observe that we hoped to get a shot at 
some bears, but the chamois were the legitimate 
object of the hunt. The late autumn or early winter 
is the best time for bear-hunting. 

I had not been long at my post when I heard two 
shots in quick succession fired below me. I found a 
chamois had been shot. 

For our next battue we turned right-about face, 
the beaters coming from the other side ; but we had 
bad luck. One of our party saw a bear at some dis- 
stance, fired, and — missed it. The fact of a bear 
having been sighted encouraged us in keeping up 
our battues pretty late, but nothing more was shot 
that day. It was very disappointing, because if the 
bear was thereabouts our numerous staff of beaters 
ought to have turned him up again. Some of the 
party were altogether sceptical about a bear having 
been seen at all. Of course the man who had fired 
held to the bear as if it was the first article in his 
creed. The dissentients remarked that " believing 


is seeing," as some one cleverly said of spiritualism. 
I don't know whether it was better to think you had 
missed your bear or had no bear to miss. 

When we returned to the hut in the evening we 
found that a couple of men left in charge had made 
some great improvements. The Wallacks, who are 
sharp ready-handed fellows, to do them justice, had 
in our absence cut down some trees, split them with 
wooden pegs, and constructed out of the rough tim- 
ber a long table and a couple of benches. These 
were placed in front of our hut ; the supper was 
spread, the table being lighted with some four lan- 
terns, supplemented by torches of resinous pine-wood. 

The weather had been fair, though sport had been 
bad, so with a feeling not " altogether sorrow-like " 
we sat down to a hearty good meal. One of the 
dishes was chamois-liver, which is considered a 
great delicacy. We had, indeed, several capital 
dishes, well dressed and served hot — a most suc- 
cessful feast at 5000 feet above the sea-level. A 
vote of thanks was proposed for the cook, and carried 
unanimously. The wines were excellent. We had 
golden Mediasch, one of the best wines grown in 
Transylvania, Eoszamaber from Karlsburg and Bak- 
atar. The peculiarity about the first-named wine 
is that it produces an agreeable pricking on the 
tongue, called in German tschirpsen. 


Before turning in we had a smoke, accompanied 
by tea with rum, the invariable substitute for milk 
in Hungary. 

As there were four big fires burning in the clear- 
ing outside the hut, the whole scene was very bright 
and cheerful. The wood crackled briskly, the flames 
lit up the green foliage, and the moving figures 
of our attendants gave animation to the picture. 
Amongst ourselves there were a few snatches of 
song, and from up the hill where the Wallacks were 
camped came a chorus of not unmusical voices. 
One after another of our party dropped off, betak- 
ing himself to his natural rest. I was not the last, 
and must have slept as soon as I pulled the plaid 
over my ears, for I remembered nothing more. 

I daresay I slept two or three hours ; it may have 
been more or less, I don't know, but the next 
moment of consciousness, or semi-consciousness, was 
an uneasy feeling that a thief was trying to carry off 
a large tin bath that belonged to me, in my dream. 
As he dragged it away it seemed to me that he 
bumped it with all his might, making a horrible row. 
Meanwhile, oppressed by nightmare, I could not 
budge an inch nor utter a cry, though I would have 
given the world to stop the thief. I daresay this 
nonsense of my dream occupied but an instant of 
time. I woke to the consciousness of a loud peal 


of thunder. "We are in for a storm/' thought I, 
turning drowsily on my other side, not yet much 
awake to the probable consequences. 

There was no sleep for me, however. The rest of 
the party were, one and all, up and moving about ; 
and the noise of the storm also increased — the flashes 
of lightning were blinding, and the crash of the 
thunder was almost simultaneous. Through the 
open side of our hut I could see and hear the 
rain descending in torrents ; fortunately it did not 
beat in, but it was not long before the wet pene- 
trated the roof — that roof of leaves that I had 
mentally condemned the day before. After the rain 
once came through, the ground was soon soaking. 

It was a dismal scene. I sat up with the others, 
"the lanterns dimly burning," and occupied myself 
for some time contriving gurgoyles at different angles 
of my body, but the wet would trickle down my neck. 

We made a small fire inside the hut, essaying 
thereby to dry some of our things. My socks were 
soaking; my boots, I found, had a considerable storage 
of water ; the only dry thing was my throat, made 
dry by swallowing the wood-smoke. A more com- 
plete transformation scene could hardly be imagined 
than our present woeful guise compared with the 
merriment of the supper-table, where all was song 
and jollity. 

"BEAR, bear!" 123 

A German, who was sitting on the same log 
with myself, looking the picture of misery, had been 
one of the most jovial songsters of the evening. 

" Thousand devils ! " said he, " you could wring 
me like a rag. This abominable hut is a sponge — 
a mere reservoir of water." 

" Oh, well, it is all part of the fun," said I, turning 
the water out of my boots, and proceeding to toast 
my socks by the fire on the thorns of a twig. " Sup- 
pose we sing a song. What shall it be ? — ' The meet- 
ing of the waters ' \ " 

I had intended a mild joke, but the Teuton re- 
lapsed into grim silence. 

The storm after a while appeared to be rolling off. 
The thunder-claps were not so immediately over our 
heads, and the flashes of lightning were less frequent ; 
in fact a perfect lull existed for a short space of time, 
marking the passage probably to an oppositely elec- 
trified zone of the thunder-cloud. During this brief 
lull we were startled by hearing all at once a fright- 
ful yelling from the quarter where the Wallacks were 
camping, a little higher up than our hut. 

Amidst the general hullabaloo of dogs barking 
and men shouting we at last distinguished the cry 
of "Ursa, ursa ! " which is Wallachian for bear. 
Our camp became the scene of the most tremendous 
excitement ; everybody rushed out, but in the thick 


darkness it was impossible to pursue the bear. The 
more experienced sportsmen were not so eager to 
sally out after the bear, as they were anxious to 
prevent a stampede of the horses. When the latter 
were secured as well as circumstances would permit, 
a few guns were fired off to warn the bear, and 
then there was nothing for it but to watch and wait. 
The dogs went on barking for more than an hour, 
but otherwise the camp relapsed into stillness. I 
spent the remainder of the night sitting on a log 
before the fire, smoking my pipe with the bowl 
downwards, for the rain had never ceased, and 
clouds of steam rose from our camp-fires. The fear 
was that the powder would get wet. I must have 
dropped off my perch asleep, for I picked myself up 
the next morning out of a pool of water. It was 
already dawn, and looking eastward I saw a streak 
of light beneath a dark curtain of cloud, like the 
gleam on the edge of a sword, so sharp and defined 
was it. This was hopeful ; it had ceased raining 
too, and a brisk wind came up the valley. 

There was plenty to be done, in drying our 
clothes and preparing breakfast under difficulties. 
In the midst of this bustle a Wallack came in to 
tell us that the bear had really got into the camp in 
the night, and that he had killed and partly eaten 
one of the horses. This confirmed the fact that the 


bear had been sighted by one of our party the day 
before ; though we missed him, he had had his 
supper, and we were minus a horse. 

I followed the Wallaek a few steps up the hill, and 
there, not far off, on a knoll to the left, lay the carcass 
of the horse. It was a strange sight ! Crowds of 
eagles, vultures, and carrion-crows were already feast- 
ing on the remains. Every moment almost, fresh 
birds came swooping down to their savage breakfast. 
Bears do not always eat flesh ; but it seems when 
once tasted, they have a liking for it, and cease to 
be vegetarians. A simple-minded bear delights in 
maize, honey, wild apples and raspberries. 

Our guns required a good deal of cleaning before 
we were ready to start for the second day's sport. 

The result of the battues were not satisfactory. 
A fine buck was shot, and two or three chamois 
were bagged. We sighted no less than three bears, 
but they all broke through the line, and got off into 
the lower valleys. The provoking thing was that 
the bear or bears came again to our camp the second 
night ; but they were able to do no mischief this 
time. The horses were kept better together, and the 
dogs scared the intruders from close quarters I 
imagine. Fires certainly do not frighten the bear in 
districts where they get accustomed to the shepherds' 


The third day of our shooting the weather was 
good, but we had no sport at all. I believe we 
should have done better with a different set of 
beaters, and this opinion was shared by several of 
our party. The Forstmeister had made a mistake 
in choosing men from the villages in the plain, 
instead of getting some of the hill shepherds, who 
know the mountains thoroughly well, and are not 
afraid of a bear when they see one. Some of our 
beaters were funky, I believe, and gave the bear a 
wide berth I feel sure, otherwise we must have had 
better sport. 

During the evening of the third day F got 

a bad attack of fever, the intermittent fever 
common in all the Danubian Provinces. After 
supper the rain came on again, not violently, but 
enough to make everything very damp. I felt that 
under the circumstances the hut was a very bad 
place for him, so I cast about to see what I could 
do. As good-luck would have it, not very far off 
I discovered a horizontal fissure in the cliff, a sort 
of wide slit caused by one rock overhanging another 
ledge. It was fortunately sheltered from the wind, 
and promised to suit my purpose very well. 

I collected a pile of sticks and firewood, thrust 
them blazing into the cavity, and fed the fire till 
the rocks were fit to crack with the heat. T 


remembered having seen cottagers heat their ovens 
in this way in Somersetshire. I now raked out 
the fire and all the mortuary remains of insects, 
and then laid down a plaid thrice doubled for soft- 
ness. Having done this, I seized upon my friend, 
weak and prostrate as he was, and shoved him 
into his oven like a batch of bread. I had pre- 
viously given him a big dose of quinine (without 
which medicine I never travel in these parts), and 
now I set to work rubbing him, for he was really 

very bad indeed. In ten minutes or so F 

became warm as a toast. The terrible shivering 
was stopped, so my plan of baking was succeeding 
capitally. It is true he complained a little of one 
shoulder being rather overdone, but that was nothing. 
The vigorous rubbing was of great service also. I 
remembered the saying, " Whatever is worth doing 
at all is worth doing well," so I rubbed my patient 
with a will. He objected rather, but he was too 
weak to make any resistance, so I rubbed on. I 
knew it would do him good in the end ; so it did — 
I cured him. I think, however, the cure was mainly 
due to the baking ! 

After I had satisfied myself that my friend was 
going on well, I arranged our waterproofs in front 
of the opening like curtains; and then I turned 
in myself, for there was room for me too in the 


oven. The rain descended pretty heavily in the 
night, but we slept well ; and my patient presented 
a most creditable appearance in the morning. 

On the fourth day some of our party bagged 
a few chamois, but the incidents of the day 

were in no way remarkable. At night F and 

I returned to our cave. The others had dubbed 
it the "Hotel d'Angleterre." Considering the ca- 
pability we had of warming-up, our quarters were 
not half bad. 

The succeeding morning it was settled that we 
should strike our camp and move on to a fresh 
place. The beaters were sent back, for they were 
not a bit of good. Some of the party also left, 
amongst them my German friend. I do not think 
he will ever join a bear - hunt again, and his 
departure did not surprise us. After leaving 
our late quarters we rode for some hours along 
a singular ridge, so narrow at places as to leave 
little more than the width of the sheep-track 
on the actual summit. This ridge, more or less 
precipitous, rises above the zone of forest, and 
is covered with short thick grass. We passed, I 
should think, thirty flocks of sheep at different 
times, attended by the wild-looking Wallacks and 
their fierce dogs. 

We made a halt in the middle of the day, but the 


rain was coming down, and we were glad to be soon 
off again. 

In the afternoon we got over into the Eoumanian 
side of the frontier. The lofty limestone ridge of 
which I have spoken is in fact the boundary-line at 
this part. We were at an elevation of about 6000 
feet, judging from the heights above us, when 
suddenly, or almost suddenly, the clouds were lifted 
which hitherto had enveloped us. It was like 
drawing up the curtain of a theatre. I never 
remember to have seen anything so striking as this 
sudden revealing of the fair world at our feet, 
bathed in glowing sunlight. We beheld the plains 
of Eoumania far away stretched as a map beneath 
us ; there, though one cannot discern it, the swift 
Aluta joins the Danube opposite Nicopolis ; and 
there, within range of the glass, are the white 
mosques of Widdin in Bulgaria. We looked right 
down into Little Wallachia, where woods, rocks, 
and streams are tumbled about pellmell in a 
picturesque but unsettled sort of way. The very 
locality we were traversing is the part where the 
salt-smugglers used to carry on their trade, and 
many a sharp encounter has been fought here 
between them and the soldiers. This is now a 
thing of the past, since Eoumania has also intro- 
duced a salt monopoly. 


We were treated to this glorious view for little 
more than half an hour ; the clouds then enveloped 
us again, and blotted out that fair world, with all 
its brightness, as if it were not. A strong wind 
blew up from the north, bringing with it a storm 
of rain and sleet which chilled us to the bones. 
The horses went slower and slower. IncludiDg the 
noonday halt, we had been ten hours in the saddle, 
and men and horses had had pretty well enough. 
I never recollect a colder ride. 

"We encamped that night in the forest. I looked 
out for another rock oven, and found one not other- 
wise unsuitable for shelter ; but unfortunately this 
time the opening was to the windward side, so it 
was useless for our purpose. It was a good thing 

F did not have a return of his fever here, for we 

had to pass the night very indifferently. 

The next morning the weather continued so 
persistently bad in the mountains that we voted 
the " hunt " at an end, and made the best of our 
way towards Mehadia, from which place we were 
in fact not so very distant. The descent was very 
rapid ; at first through a thick forest, then into the 
open valley, where the heat became intense. The 
change of temperature was very striking. 


Back at Mehadia — Troubles about a carriage — An unexpected night 
on the road — Return to Karansebes— On horseback through 
the Iron Gate Pass — Varhely, the ancient capital of Dacia — 
Roman remains — Beauty of the Hatszeg Valley. 

After a week of such weather as we had had in 
the mountains, a water-tight roof over one's head 
was in itself a luxury ; so we were not inclined to 
quarrel with our quarters at the hotel at Mehadia, 
had they been even less good than they were. 

F and I wished the next day to get back 

to Karansebes ; he had left his carriage, and I my 
Servian horse. A Hungarian gentleman, one of the 
late expedition, said he would arrange to have a 
vorspann, if we would join him, as he also wanted 
to go there. This well-understood plan insures to 
the traveller relays of horses, and we were only too 
glad to acquiesce in the prospect of making the 
journey pleasantly and quickly. 

The driver who was to take us the first stage 
came in and asked for a florin to get some oats for 
his horses. Very foolishly I gave him the money, 


nothing doubting; and off he went to spend it on 
slivovitz, the result being that he was soon drunk 
and incapable. If we had realised the fact at once 
it might have been better, but we waited and waited, 
not knowing for a long time what had happened. 
This upset all our vorspann arrangements, and to 
our great disgust the best part of the day was wasted 
in seeking another vehicle and horses to take us to 
Karansebes. At last we succeeded in obtaining a 
lumbering sort of covered conveyance, whose speed 
we doubted from the first ; but the owner, who was to 
drive us, declared he would get us to our journey's 
end in an incredibly short space of time. 

We took care to give no pourboire in advance ; 
but what with the inevitable dilatoriness of the 
people down in these parts, it was after seven 
o'clock before we left the Hercules-Bad, and we had 
fifty miles to drive. 

Not even the ten hours of undisturbed consecutive 
repose in the downy bed at the Mehadia hotel had 
made up the deficiency of sleep during the foregoing 
week, and drowsiness overcame us. I think we 
must have had a couple of hours of monotonous 
jog-trot on the fairly level road when I fell asleep, 
and I suppose my companions did the same. 

I must have slept long and profoundly, for when 
I woke, pulling myself together with some difficulty, 


having slept in the form of a doubled-up zigzag, I 
found it was daylight. I was surprised that we 
were not moving; I rubbed my eyes, and looked 
out at the back of the cart, and there I saw a round 
tower on a slight eminence, encircled by a belt of 
fir-wood, the very counterpart of a pretty bit of 
scenery I had noticed in the twilight. I looked 
again, and sure enough it was just the tower itself 
and no other, and the very same belt of wood. The 
explanation was not far to seek. I was the first to 
wake up in our "fast coach/' Every mortal soul — and 
there were five of us, besides the four horses — had, it 
seems, gone to sleep much about the same time that 
I did. The magic sleep of eld must have fallen upon 
us. The simple fact was, we had passed the night in 
the middle of the highroad. Was there ever anything 
so ridiculous 1 

We were about seven miles from Mehadia ; I 
knew the country perfectly well. Of course we made 
a confounded row with the idiot of a driver, who 
certainly had been hired — not to go to sleep. I 
have known these Wallacks drive for miles in a 
state of somnolency, the horses generally keeping in 
the " safe middle course " of their own accord. As 
there were some awkward turns not far ahead of us, 
it was perhaps just as well that the horses stopped 
on this occasion. 


Well, we jogged on all that day, reaching Karan- 
sebes between one and two o'clock. We had been 
some eighteen hours on the road ! 

Here F and I parted, my friend returning to 

Uibanya, while I pursued my way to Transylvania. 

I slept the night at Karansebes, rising very early; 
indeed I started soon after four o'clock. I was 
again on my little Servian horse, who was quite 
fresh after his long rest, and I saw no reason why 
I should not reach Hatszeg the same evening, as 
the distance is not more than forty-five miles. 
About two miles from Karansebes I passed a hill 
crowned with a picturesque ruin, locally called 
Ovid's Tower. Tradition fondly believes that Ovid 
spent the last years of his banishment, not on the 
shores of the stormy Euxine, but in the tranquillity 
of these lovely valleys. Certain it is that the name 
and fame of many of the great Eomans are still 
known to the Wallacks ; and the story is told by Mr 
Boner, that they have a catechism which teaches the 
children to say that they have Ovid and Virgil for 
their ancestors, and that they are descended from 
demigods ! 

On my way I passed the villages of Ohaba, Marga, 
and Bukova. On arriving at Varhely, or Gradischtie, 
as it is called in Wallack language, I found that it 
was worth while to stay the night, for the sake of 


having the afternoon to examine the Roman remains 
scattered about the neighbourhood. 

The Wallack villages I had passed through were 
very miserable -looking places : they are generally in 
the south of Transylvania. The houses are mostly 
mere wattled wigwams, without chimneys ; a patch 
of garden, rudely hurdled in, with the addition of a 
high stockaded enclosure for cattle. Some of the 
women are extremely pretty, and, as I have said 
before, the costume can be very picturesque ; but 
they are often seen extremely dirty, in which case 
the filthy fringe garment gives them the appearance 
of savages. 

Varhely is conspicuous for its dirt even among 
Wallachian villages, yet once it was a royal town. 
It is built on the site of the famous Sarmisegethusa, 
the capital of ancient Dacia. In Trajan's second ex- 
pedition against Decebalus, King of the Dacians, he 
came from Orsova on the Danube by the same route 
that forms the highroad of this day — the same I had 
traversed in my way hither. It is curious to reflect 
how nation succeeding nation tread in each other's 
footsteps, through the self-same valley, beneath the 
shadow of the old hills. Here they have trudged, 
old Dacian gold-seekers, returning from the daily 
labours of washing the auriferous sands of the moun- 
tain streams ; here, too, have tramped victorious 


Eoman soldiers — Avars, Tartars, Turks, and other 
intruders. A long and motley cavalcade has history 
marshalled along this route for two thousand years 
and more ! 

The old Dacians were strong enough we know to 
exact a yearly tribute from Domitian : it was for this 
insult that Trajan marched upon Dacia, defeating 
Decebalus at Klausenburg, in the heart of Transyl- 
vania, which was at the time their greatest strong- 
hold. It was after this that the Dacian king re- 
treated upon Sarmisegethusa, and there Trajan came 
down upon them through the Iron Gate Pass. Un- 
able to defend themselves, the Dacians set fire to 
their royal city and fled to the mountains. On 
these ruins the Romans, ever ready to appropriate a 
good site, erected the city of Ulpia Trajana, connect- 
ing it by good roads with the existing Roman 
colonies at Karlsburg and Klausenburg. 

Unless the traveller had brought historic facts 
with him to Gradischtie, he would hardly be induced 
to search for tesselated pavements and relics of 
royalty amongst the piggeries of this dirty Wallack 
village. It is a literal fact that a very fine speci- 
men of Roman pavement exists here in an un- 
savoury outhouse, not unknown to pigs and their 

This Hatszeg Valley, in the county of Hunyad, has 


long been celebrated for the richness of its Dacian 
and Eoman antiquities. These treasures have un- 
fortunately been dispersed about amongst various 
general collections of antiquity, instead of being well 
kept together as illustrative of local facts and 
history. The archaeologist must seek for these 
remains specially in the Ambras collection of the 
Archaeological Museum at Vienna, the National 
Museum at Buda Pest, in the Bruckenthal Museum 
at Herrmannstadt, also in the Klausenburg Museum. 
Dr H. Finaly, Professor of Archaeology at the Uni- 
versity of Klausenburg, is the great living authority 
on this interesting subject. To him I am indebted 
for some information, conveyed in a letter to a 
private friend. 1 The professor alludes to the fact 
of the treasures being all carried away, adding that 
on the spot very little is to be found except the 
remains of Eoman encampments (castra stativa), 
Eoman military roads, together with the founda- 
tions of buildings, the materials of which however 
are usually carried away by the peasants. Nor are the 
records of former interesting discoveries to be found 
in one volume, but are dispersed about in the various 
publications of learned societies, such as the ' Archae- 
logiaei Kozlemenyek' of the Hungarian Academy, 
the ' Year-Book of the Transylvanian Museum/ and 

1 Martin Diosy, Esq. 


' Verhandlungen mid Mittheilungen' of the Yerein fur 
Siebenbiirgische Landeskunde of Herrmannstadt. 

That the materials of the old Konian buildings 
are now used for baser purposes, one has abundant 
proof; even in my hurried inspection I saw many 
a sculptured stone and fragment of fluted column 
doing duty as the support of a wretched Wallack 
shanty. Another evidence of the Eoman occupation 
of the country occurs in the case of certain plants 
now found growing wild, which are exotic to the 
soil. This, I am told, occurs in a marked manner at 
Thorda, which was known to be a Eoman colony. 
The plants, it may be presumed, were brought 
thither by the Eoman legionaries. The most pic- 
turesque bit of Eoman antiquity is the Temple 
at Demsus, within a short drive of Varhely. It is 
on a small eminence overlooking a cluster of Wal- 
lack dwellings, and has long been used as a church 
by these people. 

The Hatszeg Valley, which comprehends the district 
I am now describing, is the pride of Transylvania, 
not less for its fertility than for its beauty. It has 
the appearance of having been filled in former geo- 
logical ages by the waters of a widespread lake. 

It was a lovely afternoon, but very hot, when I 
rode into the little town of Hatszeg. Everywhere is 
to be seen evidence of the careful cultivation of the 


maize and other crops. Numerous villages dot the 
plain and cluster amidst the thickly-wooded hillsides. 
And now we come upon the railway system again, 
which has stretched out its feelers into the wilds 
of the Southern Carpathians. The railroad enters 
Transylvania by two routes.. The main line is from 
Buda-Pest to Grosswardein, and so on by Klausen- 
burg — the Magyar capital — to the present terminus 
of Kronstadt, one of the chief towns of the Saxon 
immigrants. This includes a branch to Maros Ya- 
sarhely. It is proposed to carry this line over a pass 
in the Carpathians to Bucharest. The second line 
of railway entering Transylvania starts from Arad, 
and terminates at Herrmannstadt, the Saxon capital, 
having a branch to the mineral district of Petroseny. 
It will be seen from the above that this " odd 
corner of Europe/' as Transylvania has been called, 
is fairly well off for iron roads ; and considering 
how short a time some portions of them have been 
opened, they have already borne good fruit in 
developing the resources of the country. 


Hungarian hospitality — Wallack laziness — Fishing — " Settled gipsies" 
— Anecdote — Old regime — Fire — Old Roman bath — The avifauna 
of Transylvania — Fly-fishing. 

I had brought with me from London a letter of in- 
troduction to a Hungarian gentleman residing near 
Hatszeg, and finding his place was not far off, I rode 
over to see him the evening of my arrival. 

I had merely intended to make a call, but Herr 

von B , with true Hungarian hospitality, insisted 

that I should stay at his house as long as I remained 
in the neighbourhood. 

" What ! allow a stranger to remain at the inn ? 
— impossible ! " he said with resolute kindness. 

It was in vain that I made any attempt to plead 
that I felt it was trespassing too much on his hospi- 
tality. His answer was very decided. He put the 
key of the stable which held my horse in his pocket, 
and turning to one of his people he gave orders that 
my things should be brought hither from the Hatszeg 


I was soon quite at home with my new friends, a 
young married couple, whose menage, though very 
simple, was thoroughly refined and agreeable. As 
it was my first visit to a Hungarian house, I found 
many things to interest me. Several of the dishes at 
table were novelties, the variety consisting more in 
the cooking than in the materials ; for instance, we 
had maize dressed in a dozen different ways. It was 
generally eaten as a sort of pudding at breakfast, at 
which meal there was also an unfailing dish of water- 
melons. Of course we had paprika handl (chicken 
with red pepper), and gulyas, a sort of improved 
Irish stew ; and gipsy's meat, also very good, besides 
excellent soups and many nameless delicacies in the 
way of sweets. 

All Hungarian men are great smokers, but as a 
rule the ladies do not smoke ; there are some excep- 
tions, but it is considered " fast " to do so. 

The peasants in the Hatszeg Valley are all 
Wallacks, and as lazy a set as can well be 
imagined ; in fact, judging by their homes, they are 
in a lower condition than those of the Banat. So 
much is laziness the normal state with these people 
that I think they must regard hard work as a sort 
of recreation. Their wants are so limited that there 
is no inducement to work for gain. What have 
they to work for beyond the necessary quantity of 


maize, slivovitz, and tobacco % Their women make 
nearly all the clothes. Wages of course are high — 
that is the trouble throughout the country. If the 
Wallack could be raised out of the moral swamp of 
his present existence he might do something, but he 
must first feel the need of what civilisation has to 
offer him. 

The village of Kea, where I was staying, is about 
the wildest-looking place one can well imagine in 
Europe. The habitations of the peasants are made 
of reed and straw ; the hay-ricks are mere slovenly 
heaps, partially thatched ; the fences are made up 
of odds and ends. As for order, the whole place 
might have been strewn with the debris of a whirl- 
wind and not have looked worse. As a natural 
consequence of all this slatternly disorder, fire is 
no uncommon occurrence ; and when a fire begins, 
it seldom stops till it has licked the whole place 
clean — a condition not attainable by any other 

Fishing was a very favourite amusement with 

us, and Herr von B several times organised 

some pleasant excursions with that obj ect. ' One day 
we went up the Lepusnik, a magnificent trout- 

"We drove across the valley, and then followed a 
narrow gorge near the village of Klopotiva. The 


scenery was enchanting, but our fishing was only 
moderately successful ; for the trout were very much 
larger than in the valley nearer home, and they 
bothered us sadly by carrying away our lines. 

Some way up the valley we came upon a little 
colony of gipsies, who were settled there. Their 
dwellings were more primitive than the Wallacks 
even. The huts are formed of plaited sticks, with 
mud plastered into the interstices ; this earth in 
time becomes overgrown with grass, and as the 
erection is only some seven feet high, it has very 
much the appearance of an exaggerated mound 
or anthill, and would never suggest a human 

A fire was burning in the open, with a tripod to 
support the iron pot — just as we see in England in 
a gipsy's camp ; and the people had a remarkable 
resemblance in complexion and feature, only that 
here they were far less civilised than with us. 

I entered one of the huts, in which by the way I 
could scarcely stand upright, and found there a man 
employed in making a variety of simple wooden 
articles for household use. The gipsies are remark- 
ably clever with their hands; many of these wooden 
utensils are fashioned very dexterously, and even 
display some taste. The gipsy, moreover, is always 
the best blacksmith in all the country round ; and 


as for their music, I have before spoken of the 
strange power these people possess of stirring the 
hearts of their hearers with their pathetic strains. 
It has often seemed to me that this marvellous gift 
of music is, as it were, a language brought with 
them in their exile from another and a higher state 
of existence. 

That these poor outcasts are capable of noble self- 
sacrifice, the story I am about to relate will testify. 
Not far from this very gipsy settlement, in a wild 
romantic glen, is a steep overhanging rock, which 
is known throughout the country as the " Gipsy's 
Kock," and came to be so called from the following 
tragical occurrence. It seems that many years ago 
— about the middle of the last century, I believe — 
there was a famine in the land, and the poor gip- 
sies, poorer than all the rest, were reduced to great 
straits. Some of them came to the neighbouring 
village and begged hard for food. The selfish 
people turned them away, or at least tried to do 
so ; but one poor fellow would not cease his 
importunities, and said that his children were 
literally starving. " Then," said one of the vil- 
lagers in a mocking tone, " I will give your family 
a side of bacon if you will jump that rock." 

" You hear his promise ? " cried the gipsy, 
appealing to the idle crowd. He said not another 

(( mrr^ rtT ^^' 


word, but rushing from their midst, clambered up 
the rock, and in another instant took the fatal 
leap ! 

I see no reason to discredit the story, generally 
believed as it is in the district ; and, happily for the 
honour of human nature, it has many a parallel, in 
another way perhaps, but equal in self-sacrifice and 

The gipsies in Hungary are supposed to number 
at least 150,000. The Czigany, as they are called, 
made their appearance early in the fifteenth cen- 
tury, having fled, it is believed, from the cruelty of 
the Mongol rulers. They were allowed by King 
Sigismund to settle in Hungary, and were called 
in law the " new peasants." Before the reforms 
of 1848 they were in a state of absolute serfdom, 
and could not legally take service away from the 
place where they were born. The case of the 
gipsy was the only instance in Hungary, even 
in the Hungary of the old regime, of absolute 
serfdom ; for oppressive as were the obligations 
of the land - holding peasant to his lord, yet 
the relation between them was never that of 
master and slave. As a matter of fact, if the 
Hungarian peasant gave up his session — that 
is to say, the land he occupied in hereditary 
use — he was free to go wheresoever he pleased, 


and was not forced to serve any master. In 
practice the serf would not readily relinquish the 
means of subsistence for himself and family, and 
generally preferred the burden, odious though it 
was, of the robot, or forced labour. This personal 
liberty, which the Hungarian peasant in the worst 
of times has preserved, is deep-rooted in the 
growth of the nation, and accounts for their char- 
acteristic love of freedom in the present day. It 
was this that made the freedom-loving peasant 
detest the military conscription imposed by the 
Austrians in 1849, an innovation the more obnoxi- 
ous because enforced with every species of official 

The poor Czigany had not been so fortunate as 
to preserve even the Hungarian serfs modicum of 
liberty. Mr Paget mentions that forty years ago 
he saw gipsies exposed for sale in the neighbouring 
province of Wallachia. 

There are a great many " settled gipsies " in 
Transylvania. Of course they are legally free, but 
they attach themselves peculiarly to the Magyars, 
from a profound respect they have for everything 
that is aristocratic ; and in Transylvania the name 
Magyar holds almost as a distinctive term for class 
as well as race. The gipsies do not assimilate with 
the thrifty Saxon, but prefer to be hangers-on at 


the castle of the Hungarian noble : they call them- 
selves by his name, and profess to hold the same 
faith, be it Catholic or Protestant. Notwithstanding 
that, the gipsy has an incurable habit of pilfering 
here as elsewhere ; yet they can be trusted as 
messengers and carriers — indeed I do not know 
what people would do without them, for they are 
as good as a general " parcels-delivery company " 
any day ; and certainly they are ubiquitous, for never 
is a door left unlocked but a gipsy will steal in, to 
your cost. 

The gipsy is sometimes accused of having a hand 
in incendiary fires ; but I believe the general tes- 
timony is in his favour, and against the Wallack, 
whose love of revenge is the ugliest feature in his 
character. These people seem to forget the saying 
that " curses, like chickens, come home to roost," for 
they will set fire to places under circumstances that 
not unfrequently involve themselves in ruin. 

We were calmly sitting one day at dinner when 
we heard a great row all at once ; looking out of 
the window, we saw dense clouds of smoke and 
flame not a hundred yards from the house. We 
rushed out immediately to render assistance, but 
without water or engines of any kind it was difficult 

to do much. However, Herr von B and myself 

got on the top of the outhouse that was in flames, 


and stripped off the wooden tiles, removing out of 
the way everything that was likely to feed the fire. 
There stood close by a crowd of Wallacks, utterly 
panic-stricken it seemed: they did nothing but 
scream and howl as if possessed. The building 
belonged to one of them, but he only screamed 
louder than the rest, and was not a bit of use, 
though he was repeatedly called on to help. If 
the wind had set the other way, it would have 
been just a chance if the whole village had not been 
burned down. In this instance the fire was caused 
by mere carelessness. 

The number of excursions to be made in the 
Hatszeg Valley is endless. On one occasion I took 
my horse and rode off alone to inspect mines and 
mining works in the mountains. While looking 
over the ironworks at Kalan, I was told of the 
existence of some Eoman remains in the neighbour- 
hood, so taking a boy from the works with me to 
act as guide, I set off, walking, to examine the spot. 
He led me into the middle of a field, not far off 
the main road ; and here I found the remains of a 
Roman bath of a very interesting character. 

It was singularly constructed. I must observe 
first that there was a protruding mass of rock 
rising about fifteen feet above the surrounding 
ground, and of considerable circumference. In the 


middle of this there was a circular excavation ten 
feet in diameter and ten feet deep. At the bottom 
I discovered a spring of tepid mineral water, which 
flowed away through a small section cut perpen- 
dicularly out of the wall of the great bath; judging 
from other incisions in the stone, a wooden slide 
may have been used to bay back the water. On the 
face of the rock I noticed a Roman inscription, but 
too much mutilated for me to make anything of it. 
An attempt had been evidently made to utilise 
this mineral water, for in the field were some 
primitive wooden bathing-houses, and not far off 
there was actually a little inn, but I fear the 
public had not encouraged the revival of the 
Roman bath. 

In poking about after game or minerals, one 
frequently comes upon evidence of the former 
occupation of the country. Speaking of game, 
the partridges are not preserved, and they are 
scarce ; of course I was too early, but in autumn 
the woodcock-shooting, I understand, is first-rate. 
Quails and snipes are also common in the Hatszeg 

Herr von Adam Buda, or, as one should say in 
Hungarian, Buda Adam (for the Christian name 
always comes last), has devoted much time to 
the avifauna of Transylvania. He has a fine 


collection of stuffed birds at his residence at Kea, 
near Hatszeg. These are birds which he has 
himself shot, and he is quite the local authority 
upon the subject. 

I have alluded to the trout-fishing in the district. 
I went out frequently, and had generally very fair 
sport indeed. Mr Danford, in his paper in 'The 
Ibis/ 1 in speaking of fishing, says: "Perhaps the 
best stream in the country is the Sebes, which 
joins the Strell near Hatszeg. The trout are not bad, 
one to two lbs. in weight ; and the grayling-fishing 
is really good — almost any number may be taken in 
autumn, when weather and water are in good order. 
The Sil also, near Petroseny, is a fine-looking river, 
and used to be celebrated for its so-called ' salmon- 
trout ; ' but these had quite disappeared when we 
saw it, having * been blown up with dynamite, a 
method of fishing very commonly practised in 
the country, but now forbidden by law. Indeed 
fly-fishing is gaining ground, and English tackle 
in great demand." 

This practice of the wholesale destruction of fish 
by the use of dynamite has not been stopped a 
moment too soon ; and some time must now elapse 
in certain waters before they can become properly 
stocked again. 

1 Vol. v., The Birds of Transylvania. 


It was now time for me to quit the happy valley, 
and I bade adieu to my kind friends near Hatszeg. 
I believe if I had remained to this day, I should 
not have outstayed my welcome. I had come to 
pay a morning visit, and I stopped on more than a 

The Hungarian has a particularly pleasant way of 
greeting a stranger under his own roof. He gives 
you the idea that he has been expecting you, 
though in reality your existence and name were 
unknown to him till he read the letter or the 
visiting-card with which you have just presented 

I now sent my portmanteau, &c, on to Herrmann- 
stadt, packed my saddle-bags to take with me, and 
once more rode off into the wilds. My destination 
this time was Petroseny. 


On horseback to Petroseny — A new town — Valuable coal-fields- 
Killing fish with dynamite and poison — Singular manner of 
repairing roads — Hungarian patriotism — Story of Hunyadi Janos 
— Intrusion of the Moslems into Europe. 

The history of the town of Petroseny is as short as 
that of some of the western cities of America. It 
began life in 1868, and is now the terminus of a 
branch railway. 

Before the wicked days of dynamite, and as long 
ago as the year 1834, a fisherman was leisurely 
catching salmon-trout up the Sil; he had time to 
look about him, and he noticed that in many places 
the rocks had a black appearance. He broke off 
some pieces and carried them home, when he found 
that they burned like coal ; in fact he had discovered 
a coal mine ! Those were simple-minded days, for 
instead of running off with these valuable cinders 
under his arm, fixing on an influential chairman 
and a board of directors for his new company, 
this good man did nothing but talk occasionally 
of the black rock that he had seen when fishing. 


Many years elapsed before any advantage was 
taken of this valuable discovery. At length a more 
careful search was made, and it proved that coal 
existed there in abundance! In 1867 mining was 
commenced on a large scale by the Kronstader 
Company. The next year a town was already 
growing up in the neighbourhood of the mines, 
and increased in a most surprising manuer. In 
1870 the railway was opened from Petroseny to 
Piski, on the main line from Arad. The growth of 
the place, however, received a check in the finan- 
cial crisis of 1873. 

The town itself is in no way remarkable, being a 
mere collection of dwellings for the accommodation 
of the miners and the employes ; but the scenery in 
the neighbourhood is simply magnificent. In ap- 
proaching Petroseny the railway rises one foot in 
forty, no inconsiderable gradient. 

The coal-fields are partly in the hands of Govern- 
ment, and partly owned by the before-named Kron- 
stader Company. Between these separate interests 
there is not much accord. The Kronstaders say that 
Government has not behaved fairly or openly, but 
has secured to itself so many " claims " as to damage 
considerably the prospects of the private speculators. 

While at Petroseny, I heard great complaints 
against the Government for selling coal at such a 


low price that they must actually work at a loss. 
The Kronstader Verein say they are prevented in 
this way from making their fair profits, as they are 
obliged to sell down to the others. It would appear 
to be a suicidal policy for the pockets of the tax- 
payers to be mulcted for the sake of securing a pro- 
spective monopoly and the ruin of a private enter- 
prise. As it stands it is a pretty quarrel. 

Writing in 1862, Professor Ansted says: "The 
coal of Hungary is of almost all geological ages, and 
though none is first-rate in point of quality, a large 
proportion is excellent fuel. The coals most valued 
at the present moment in Hungary are those of 
the Secondary and not of the Palaeozoic period. 
But the great body of coal is very much newer ; 
it is Tertiary, and till lately was regarded as of 
comparatively modern date. In the Ysil Valley 
there is a splendid deposit of true coal." 1 Since 
the time when the above was written the resources 
of the Ysil or Sil Valley — viz., Petroseny — have 
been abundantly developed, as we see, and it has 
been pronounced to be " one of the finest coal mines 
in Europe." One of the seams of coal is ninety feet 
in thickness ; but up to the present time it has been 
found impossible to make it into coke. 

The miners at Petroseny are great offenders in 

1 A Short Trip in Hungary and Transylvania, p. 242. 


regard to the abominable practice of killing fish by 
means of dynamite. It is very well to say that the 
law forbids it; but the administrators of the law are 
not always a terror to evil-doers, and perhaps the 
timely present of a dish of fine trout does not sharpen 
the energies of the officials. Another mode of de- 
stroying fish is practised by the Wallacks. There 
grows in this locality a poisonous plant, of which 
they make a decoction and throw it into the river, 
thereby killing great numbers of fish at a time. 

While driving round Petroseny I had an oppor- 
tunity of seeing the Hungarian manner of making 
roads. The peasants have to work on the roads a 
certain number of days in the year, and if they pos- 
sess a pair of oxen, these must also be brought for a 
specified time. An inspector is supposed to watch 
over them. One afternoon we came upon a score 
of peasants, men and women, who were engaged in 
mending a bridge. Their proceedings were just 
an instance of how " not to do a thing." They were 
placing trees across the gap, and the interstices they 
were filling up with leafy branches, over which was 
thrown a quantity of loose earth and stones well 
patted down to give the appearance of a substantial 
and even surface. Of course the first rain would 
wash away the earth and leave as nice a hole as 
you could wish your enemy to put his foot into. For 


all purposes of traffic the bridge was safer with the 
honest gap yawning in the traveller s face. 

It is said that the magistrates make matters easy 
and convenient for the peasants, if the latter, by being 
let off public work, attend gratuitously to the more 
pressing wants of the individual magistrate. 

" You see, nobody suffers but the Government," 
says the man of easy conscience, not seeing that, after 
all, the good condition of the roads concerns them- 
selves more than the officials in the capital. 

In many things the Hungarians are like children, 
and they have not yet grown out of the idea that it 
is patriotic to be unruly. The fact is, the Central 
Government was so long in the hands of the Vienna 
Cabinet, who were obnoxious in the highest degree 
to the Hungarians, that the latter cannot get the 
habit of antagonism out of their minds, though the 
reconciliation carried through by Deak in 1867 en- 
tirely restored self-government to Hungary. " What 
do we want with money ? " said a gentleman of the 
old school. " Money is only useful for paying 
taxes, and if we have not got it for that purpose, 
never mind ! " 

On leaving Petroseny the route I proposed to my- 
self was to take the bridle-path over the mountains to 
Herrmannstadt. But in following this out, I omitted 
to visit the Castle of Hunyad — a great mistake, for 


castles are rare in this part of Europe, and the 
romantic and singular position of Schloss Hunyad 
renders it quite unique in a way. It is situated, I 
am told, on a lofty spur of rock, washed on three 
sides by two rivers which unite at its base, a draw- 
bridge connecting the building with a fortified 
eminence high above the stream. 

The place is associated with the name of Hungary's 
greatest hero, John Hunyadi, who was born near by, 
and who subsequently built the castle. The story of 
his birth, which took place somewhere about 1400, 
is romantic enough. His mother was said to be a 
beautiful Wallack girl called Elizabeth Marsinai, who 
was beloved by King Sigismund. When he left her 
he gave her his signet ring, which she was to bring 
to him in Buda if she gave birth to a son. 

Showing all proper respect to the wishes of its 
parents, a child of the " male persuasion " made its 
appearance in due course of time ; and the joyful 
mother, accompanied by her brother, set off walking 
to Buda, with the small boy and the ring for 
credentials. When resting by the way in a forest 
the child began playing with the ring, and a jack- 
daw, who in all ancient story has a weakness for this 
sort of ornament, pounced upon the shining jewel and 
carried it off to a tree. The brother with commend- 
able quickness took up his bow and shot the bird ; 


thus the ring was recovered, and the story duly 
related to the king, who evolved out of the incident 
a prophetic omen of the boy's future greatness. 
His majesty had the child brought up at the Court, 
and bestowed upon him the town of Hunyad and 
sixty surrounding villages. 

It was in the reign of Sigismund that the 
Turks first regularly invaded Hungary ; and the 
young Hunyadi soon distinguished himself by a 
series of victories over the Moslems. To him 
Europe is indebted for the check he gave the 
Turks. He forced them to relinquish Servia 
and Bosnia, and in his time both provinces were 
placed under the vassalage of Hungary. We may 
go further and say that had Hunyadi's plans for 
hurling back the Moslem invaders been seconded 
by the other Christian powers, we should not have 
the Eastern Question upon our hands in this our 
day. But, alas ! all the solicitations of this great 
patriot were met with short-sighted indifference by 
the Courts of Europe. It is true that the Diet of 
Eatisbon, summoned by the Emperor Frederick, 
voted 10,000 men-at-arms and 30,000 infantry to 
assist in repelling the Turks ; and it is true that the 
Pope in those days was anti-Turkish, and vowed on 
the Gospels to use every effort, even to the shedding 
of his blood, to recover Constantinople from the 


infidels. The old chronicles give a curious account 
of the monk Capestrano, who, bearing the cross that 
the Pope had blessed, traversed Hungary, Tran- 
sylvania, and Wallachia, to rouse the people to the 
danger that threatened them from the intrusion of 
the Moslem into Europe. Special church services 
were instituted ; and at noon the " Turks' bell " was 
daily sounded in every parish throughout these 
border-lands, when prayers were offered up to arrest 
the progress of the common enemy of Christendom. 
Hunyadi's son, Matthias Corvinus, rivalled his 
father as a champion against the Turks. He was 
elected King of Hungary, and after reigning forty - 
two years, passed away ; and the people still say, 
" King Matthias is dead, and justice with him." 


Hunting for a guide — School statistics — Old times — Over the moun- 
tains to Herrmannstadt — Night in the open — Nearly setting 
the forest on tire — Orlat. 

I found some difficulty while at Petroseny in 
getting a guide to convoy me over the mountains 
to Orlat, near Herrmannstadt. My Hungarian 
friend proposed that, choosing a saint's day, we 
should ride over to the neighbouring village of 
Petrilla, where I would certainly find some peasant 
able and willing amongst the numbers who crowd 
into the village on these occasions. 

Accordingly we went over, and I was very 
pleased I had gone, for the rural gathering was a 
very pretty and characteristic sight. The people 
from all the country round were collected together 
in the churchyard, dressed of course in their 
bravery, and a very goodly show they made. They 
were the finest Wallacks I had seen anywhere ; they 
were superior looking in physique, and many of them 
must really have been well off, if one may judge 
a man s wealth by the richness of the wife's dress. 

PET110SENY. 161 

Some of the young girls were very pretty, and wore 
their silver-coin decorations with quite a fashionable 
coquettish air. The Wallack women, whether 
walking or standing, never have the spindle out of 
their hands : the attitude is very graceful, added 
to which the thread must be held daintily in the 
fingers. They are very industrious, making nearly 
all the articles of clothing for the family. 

After a great deal of palavering — I think we 
must have spoken to every able-bodied man in the 
churchyard — I at last induced a young Wallach- 
ian to say he would accompany me. He spoke a 
little German, which was a great advantage. I told 
him to procure himself a good horse, and to take 
care that all his arrangements were completed before 
night, as I wished to start very early the following 

To this he replied that it would be quite necessary 
to start early, and begged to know if five o'clock 
would be too soon ; adding that as I must pass 
through Petrilla, would I meet him at the corner of 
the churchyard \ 

To this I agreed, repeating that we were to meet 
not a moment later than five o'clock. My friend 
and I returned to Petroseuy, and the afternoon was 
occupied in making preparations for two days on 
the mountains. I supplied myself with a good 


amount of sliqovitz, as a medium of exchange for 
milk and cheese with the shepherds, who under- 
stand this kind of barter much better than any 
money transactions. 

The next day, when it came, brought a con- 
tinuance of good weather, and I was up betimes, 
looking forward with pleasure to the mountain ride. 
I reached Petrilla a few minutes after five o'clock; 
but my man was not at the churchyard corner, 
whereupon I rode all round the churchyard, think- 
ing he might by mistake have pitched on some odd 
corner, and be out of sight under the trees. How- 
ever, I looked in vain — a man on horseback is not 
hidden like a lizard between two stones ! Verily he 
was not there. 

I waited half an hour all to no purpose. I now 
resolved to try and find out where he lived. I 
had understood that he belonged to the village. 
After a great deal of trouble and bother, and poking 
of my nose into various interiors where the families 
were still en deshabille, I unearthed my guide. He 
coolly said that he was waiting for the horse, which 
was to be brought to him by some other lazy fellow 
not yet up. 

I could not speak Wallachian, and he pretended 
not to understand a word of my wrathful tirade in 
German, which was all nonsense, because I found 


later that he spoke that language fairly well. I 
insisted that he should come with me to find the 
horse, and so he did at last, in a dilatory sort of 
way, and then it turned out that the animal was 
waiting at the other end of the village for his rider. 

Well, thought I, we shall start now; but no, there 
were two to that bargain. The Wallack calmly 
informed me that he must return to his hut, for he 
had not breakfasted. Not to lose sight of him, I 
returned too. He then with Oriental deliberation 
set about making a fire, and proceeded to cook his 
polenta of maize. I had got hungry again by this 
time, though I had breakfasted at Petroseny before 
starting, so I partook of some of his mess, which 
was exceedingly good, much better than oatmeal 

In consequence of all these delays it was after 
eight o'clock before we really started. The horse 
which my guide had procured for himself was a 
wretched animal — a tantalising object for vultures 
and carrion-crows — instead of being a good strong 
horse, as I had stipulated he should be ; but there 
was no help for it now, so on we went. 

My companion soon gave me to understand in 
good German that he was a superior sort of fellow. 
He had been to school at Hatszeg, and knew a thing 
or two. I have heard it stated that the Wallacks 


are so quick that they make great and rapid progress 
at first, distancing the German children ; but that 
they seem to stop after a while, and even fall back 
into ignorance and their old slovenly ways of life. 

On referring to the statistics of Messrs Keleti and 
Beothy, I see that only eleven per cent of Eoumains 
(Wallacks) attend the primary schools, and this per- 
centage had not increased between the years 1867 
and 1874. The percentage of the Magyars attend- 
ing the primary schools is forty-nine per cent, 
while the Slavs, again, are twenty-one. 

" The world is only saved by the breath of the 
school-children, " says the Talmud. A conviction 
of this truth makes every inquiry into educational 
progress extremely interesting. According to M. 
Keleti's tables, fifty-three per cent of the males and 
sixty-two per cent of the females in Hungary 
generally are still illiterates. This excludes from 
the calculation children under six years of age. On 
comparing notes, other countries do not come out 
so very much better. It is calculated that 30 per 
cent of French conscripts are unable to read ; more- 
over, in our " returns " of marriages in England in 
1845, a percentage of forty-one signed the register 
with marks. In 1874 the number of illiterates was 
reduced to twenty-one per cent. 

I elicited a good many interesting facts from my 


Wallack guide, several that were confirmatory of the 
terrible ignorance existing amongst the priesthood 
of the Greek Church. The popes do not commend 
themselves to the good opinion of the male part of 
the community, whatever hold they may have on 
the superstition of the women. I cannot see my- 
self how things are to be mended till the position 
and education of the priesthood are improved. It 
is said that, in the old days before '48, when the 
peasants had to render forced labour to the lord 
of the land, the Transylvanian nobles would have 
the village pope up to the castle, and keep him 
there for a fortnight in a state of intoxication, thus 
preventing his giving out the saints' days at the 
altar on Sunday. This was done that their own 
harvest- work should proceed without the incon- 
venience of suspending operations at a critical time 
on fete days, the people themselves being too igno- 
rant to consult the calendar! 

The Magyar nobles are improved, and do not 
play these pranks now ; but very little progress, I 
imagine, has been made on the side of the priests. 
Chatting with my Wallack guide helped to beguile 
the tedious nature of the ride, an ascent over 
roughish ground all the way. Arriving at the 
summit, we made a noonday halt. 

A fire was soon burning, whereat our dinner of 


robber-steak was roasted ; but the halt was shorter 
than usual, for I was anxious to push on, remem- 
bering how much time had been lost at starting. 

We now gained the other side of the mountain- 
chain, passing the remains of an old Turkish camp, 
the outlines of which were quite visible. From this 
point there is a magnificent view, interminable 
forests to the eastward clothing the deep ravines 
that score the hillsides. The accidents of light and 
shade were particularly happy on this occasion, 
bringing out various details in the picture in a 
very striking manner. As a general rule, there is no 
time so unpropitious for scenic effect as noonday. 

We passed from the grassy Alpen down into the 
thick of the forest, losing very soon any glimpse 
of the distant view, or any help from conspicuous 
landmarks. It was a labyrinth of trees, with tracks 
crossing each other in a most perplexing manner. 
I could not have got on without a guide. 

When the evening approached I thought it was 
time to look out for quarters for the night. Our 
first necessity was water, but we went on and on 
without coming upon a stream. It was provoking, 
for we had passed so many springs and rivulets 
earlier in the day, and now darkness threatened to 
wrap us round with the mantle of night before we 
had arranged our bivouac. When the sun sets in 


the East, it is like turning off the gas ; you are left 
in darkness suddenly, without any intervening twi- 
light. As a fact one knows this perfectly well ; but 
habit is stronger than reason, and day after day I 
went on being perplexed, and often unready for the 
" early-closing" system. 

" Water we must have," said I to the Wallack. 
" Let us strike off from the direct route and follow 
the lead of this valley, we shall find water in the 
bottom for a certainty." 

We hurried forward, leading our horses through 
the thick undercover, always diving deeper into 
the ravine. At length I discovered a trickling 
amongst the stones, and a little farther on we 
came upon a grassy spot beneath some enormous 
pine-trees. It was an ideal place for a bivouac ! 

When the horses had been carefully picketed, we 
proceeded to make a fire and cook our supper, which 
consisted of gipsy-meat and tea. 

The meal finished to my perfect satisfaction, 
(how good everything tastes under such circum- 
stances !) I then stretched myself on a sloping bank 
overspread by a thick covering of dry needle-ivood, 
as the Germans call the leaves of the fir-tree. How 
soft and clean it felt, and how sweet the aromatic 
perfume that pervaded the whole place ! Lighting 
my pipe, I gave myself up to the perfect enjoyment 


of repose amidst this romantic scene. The Wallack, 
covered by his fur bunda, was already asleep, and 
save the bubbling of the water in the little stream, 
and the crackling of the fire, there was absolutely 
not a sound or a breath. Through the tasselled pine 
branches, festooned with streamers of grey moss, I 
could see the stars shining in the blue depths of 
ether. One can realise in these regions the intense 
depth of the heavens when seen at night ; we never 
get the same effect in our " weeping skies." 

Before wrapping my plaid round me for the 
night, I threw some fresh wood on the fire, which, 
crushing down upon the hot embers, sent up a 
scintillating shower of sparks that ran a mad race 
in and out of the greenery. I saw that the horses 
were all right, I put my gun handy, and then I gave 
myself up to sleep. 

I do not know how long I had slept, but I was 
conscious of being bothered, and could not rouse 
myself at once. I dreamed that a bear was sniffing 
at me, but instead of being the least surprised or 
frightened, I said to myself in my dream, as if it 
was quite a common occurrence, "That's the bear 
again, he always comes when I am asleep." The 
next moment, however, I was very effectually 
awakened by a tug that half lifted me off the 
ground. I must mention that I had tied my horse's 


halter to my waist-belt in case of any alarm in the 
night, for I sleep so soundly always that no ordinary 
noise or movement ever wakes me. I sprang up of 
course, calling the Wallack at the same time. Some- 
thing had frightened the horses, and they had 
attempted to bolt. We found them trembling from 
head to foot, but we could not discover the cause 
of their fright. I fired off my revolver twice ; the 
Wallack in the meantime had lighted a bundle of 
resinous fir branches as a torch. He had carefully 
arranged it before he slept ; it is a capital thing, as 
it gives a good light on an emergency. 

After making an examination of the place all 
round, and finding nothing, we made up a bright 
fire, and again laid ourselves down to rest. I had 
my saddle for a pillow, and it was not half bad. 
Before giving myself over to sleep I listened and 
listened again, but I heard nothing except the hoot- 
ing of the owls answering each other in the distance. 
The night had grown very cold, and a heavy dew 
was falling, but notwithstanding these discomforts 
I had another good nap. 

Next morning, after a hearty breakfast, we were 
off early. Instead of going uphill again to recover 
our former route, we followed the stream, which 
gradually increased in size, and we came at last to 
a place where a dam had been thrown across the 


valley with the object of floating the wood cut in 
the forest. This small lake was very pretty ; the 
water was as clear as crystal. Farther on we came 
upon another dam of larger dimensions ; but though 
it had evidently been quite recently constructed, 
there was no one about, and no signs of wood- 
cutting. Here we began to ascend again, and 
about mid-day got to a place called La Durs, a 
customhouse for cattle coming from Eoumania ; it 
is not absolutely on the frontier, but very near it. 
I heard later that this district has a bad reputation 
for smugglers and robbers, the latter being on the 
increase, it is said ; always the same story of un- 
repressed lawlessness on the frontier. 

We made no stay at the customhouse, but rode 
on a couple of miles farther, where, coming upon a 
nice spring, we dined. Not a single shepherd had 
we met, so there had been no chance of bartering 
for milk ; it was not surprising, because our track 
had been almost entirely in the forests, and 
of course the shepherds are higher up on the 
Alpen. At this last halting-place we nearly set 
the forest on fire. The grass was very dry all 
round, and before I was aware of it, the fire ran 
along the ground and caught the trees. It blazed 
up in an inconceivably short time. I rushed up 
directly, to cut off what branches I could with 


my bowie-knife ; but though calling loudly to the 
Wallack to assist me, he never concerned himself 
in the least. This exasperated me beyond measure, 
seeing what mischief was likely to accrue from the 
misadventure. Luckily a man came up, riding on 
one horse and leading another, and he readily gave 
me a helping hand, and between us we put out the 
fire. The Wallack never raised a finger ! 

Getting into conversation with the new-comer, 
I found that he was going to Orlat, whereupon I 
arranged to go on with him. Accordingly I paid 
my guide, and was not sorry to have done with 
him, he had so disgusted me about the fire, and I 
was especially glad to get quit of his wretched 
horse, which had greatly retarded our progress. I 
transferred my saddle-bags to the spare horse, and 
we got on much faster, reaching Orlat by sunset. 

Before descending into the plain we had a mag- 
nificent view. Herrmannstadt seemed almost at our 
feet, though in reality it was still a long way off ; 
the Fogaraser Mountains stretching away towards 
Kronstadt, appeared in all their picturesque irregu- 
larity, and along the plain at their base were 
scattered the villages of the Saxonland, each with 
its fortress-church, a relic of the old time, when 
the brave burghers had to hold their own against 
Turk and Tartar. 


At Orlat I found a small inn, but they had no 
travellers' room in it ; however some of the family 
were good enough to turn out, and I was very glad 
to turn in, and that rather early. 


Herrmannstadt — Saxon immigrants — Museum— Places of interest in 
the neighbourhood — The fortress-churches — Heltau — The Rothen 
Thurm Pass — Turkish incursions. 

The following morning a ride of ten miles brought 
me to Herrmannstadt. Here I put up at the Hotel 
Neurikrer, a comfortable house ; it was a new sen- 
sation getting into the land of inns. The fact is, the 
Saxons are not indifferent to the existence of inns ; 
it relieves them of the necessity of hospitality. The 
Hungarian will take the wheels off his guest's carriage 
and hide them to prevent his departure, whereas the 
Saxon would be more inclined to speed the parting 
guest with amiable alacrity. There is an old-world 
look about Herrmannstadt that gives one the sensa- 
tion of being landed in another age ; it is a case of 
Rip Van Winkle, only " t'other way round," as the 
saying is : one has awakened from the sleep in the 
hills to walk down into a mediaeval town, finding 
the speech and fashions of old Germany — Luther's 

The Saxon immigrants in Hungary number nearly 


two millions. The greater proportion of these is found 
in Transylvania; the rest, some forty thousand, have 
a compact colony under the shadow of the Tatra 
Mountains, in the north of Hungary, called from 
time immemorable the " Free District." But it was 
to the slopes of the Southern Carpathians, to the 
"land beyond the forest," where the first Saxons 
came and settled. It is still called " Altland," being 
the oldest of their possessions in Hungary. In fact 
this appellation of the " Oldland " belongs, strictly 
speaking, to the Herrmannstadt district. Formerly 
no Hungarian was allowed to settle in the town, so 
jealous were the burghers of their privileges. I be- 
lieve the earliest date of the Saxon immigration is 
1143. The country had been wasted by the incur- 
sions of the Tartars, and in consequence the Servian 
Princess Helena, widow of the blind King Bela of 
Hungary, invited them hither during the minority of 
her son, Geysa II. They appear to have come from 
Flanders, and from the neighbourhood of Cologne. 
They were tempted to this strange land by certain 
privileges and special rights secured to them by the 
rulers of Hungary, and faithfully preserved through 
many difficulties; as a fact the Saxons of Tran- 
sylvania retained their self-government down to 
the middle of this century. 

These people have played no unimportant part in 


European history; for Herrmannstadt and Kronstadt, 
the sister towns of Saxon Transylvania, were called 
the bulwarks of Christianity all through the evil days 
of Moslem invasion. Herrmannstadt was called by 
the Turks the " Eed Town " on account of the colour 
of its brick walls. It was besieged in 1438 with a 
force of 70,000 men headed by the Sultan Amurad 
himself, and great were the rejoicings amongst the 
brave burghers when it became known that an arrow 
directed from one of the towers had rid them of their 
foe ! Trade and commerce must have prospered, by 
all accounts, in those days ; and the burghers made 
themselves of importance, for King Andrew II., a 
man far in advance of his time, summoned them to 
assist in consultation at the Imperial Parliament. 
The wealth of Herrmannstadt is a thing of the past ; 
the place has now the appearance of a dead level of 
competence, where riches and poverty are equally 
absent. There were no new houses building to 
supply an increasing population, nor, I should say, 
had any been built for many years. 

The town is prettily situated on a slight elevation 
above the surrounding plain ; it has the fine range 
of the Fogaraser Mountains as a background. The 
old moat, where Amurad fell pierced by the well- 
directed arrow, has been turned into a promenade ; 
parts of the fortifications remain in a state of pictur- 


esque ruin. Herrmannstadt is the seat of the Pro- 
testant Bishop of Transylvania, and there is a fine 
old church, which, however, has suffered severely in 
the process of restoration. 

The interior of the church is in that unhappy 
condition which bespeaks the churchwarden's 
period — whitewash plastered over everything, 
obliterating lights and shades and rare carvings 
beneath a glare of uncouth cleanliness. In their 
desire to remove every object that could harbour 
dust or obstruct the besom of reform, they have 
bodily removed from the church many rich monu- 
ments and interesting effigies, and these are to be 
seen huddled away in an obscure corner of the 
churchyard. The church has a large collection of 
richly-embroidered vestments belonging to the pre- 
Eeformation days. 

Herrmannstadt is decidedly rich in collections. 
The Bruckenthal Library contains an illuminated 
missal of great beauty ; the execution is singularly 
fine, and the designs very artistic. The curious 
thing is that the history of this rare volume is 
unknown ; by some it is believed to have come from 
Bohemia during the time of the troubles in that 
country, however nothing is positively known. 
The book is of the finest vellum, containing 630 
pages in small quarto. The pictures of architecture 


and scenery are extremely interesting; the first 
represent buildings familiar to us in old German 
towns, and the rural scenes depict a variety of 
agricultural instruments, together with many details 
of home life in the olden time. The colours 
of the birds and flowers are as bright as if only 
finished yesterday. The ingenuity of the design is 
very striking ; no two objects are alike. It would 
have taken hours to have looked over the volume 

In the palace, of which the museum forms a part, 
there is a gallery of pictures, collected by the Baron 
Bruckenthal, formerly governor of Transylvania. 
The history of these pictures is very curious, they 
were mostly purchased from French refugees at the 
time of the first revolution. It appears that both 
at that period, and at the revocation of the Edict 
of Nantes, many French families had sought an 
asylum in Hungary and Transylvania. In the 
Banat I am told there are two or three villages 
inhabited entirely by people who came originally 
from France ; they retain only their Gallic names, 
having adopted the Magyar tongue and utterly lost 
their own. This little colony of the Banat belonged 
of course to the Huguenot exodus. I had now an 
opportunity of examining a collection of the Boman 
antiquities obtained from the Hatszeg Valley. 


I remained several days at Herrmannstadt, princi- 
pally for the sake of resting my horse, which unfortu- 
nately had been rubbed by the saddle-bags on my 
ride from Petroseny. I spent the time agreeably 
enough, exploring the neighbourhood and making 
chance acquaintances. I bought here Bishop 
Teusch's ' History of Transylvanian Saxons/ a 
handy-book in two volumes. It interested me 
very much, especially reading it in the country 
itself where so many stirring scenes had been 

Wishing to see some of the neighbouring villages, 
I set off one fine day on a walking expedition. I 
chose Sunday, because on that day one can see to 
best advantage the costume of the peasants. Ham- 
mersdorf is a pretty enough village, " fair with 
orchard lawns/' but not so charming as Heltau, 
which, standing on high ground, commands an 
extensive view of the whole plain, with the old 
" Eed Town " in the foreground of the picture. 
The church in this village is a very fine specimen 
of the fortified churches, which are a unique feature 
of the Transylvanian border-land. The origin of 
this form of architecture is very obvious ; it was 
necessary to have a defence against the incursions of 
the Tartars and Turks, who for centuries troubled 
the peace of this fair land. In every village of the 


Saxons in the south and east of Transylvania the 
church is also a fortified place, fitted to maintain 
a siege if necessary. The construction of these 
buildings varies according to circumstances : the 
general character is that the sacred edifice is sur- 
rounded, or forms part of a strong wall with its 
watch-towers ; not unfrequently a second and even 
a third wall surround the place. In every case a 
considerable space of ground is enclosed around the 
church, sufficient to provide accommodation for 
the villagers; in fact every family with a house 
outside had a corresponding hut within the fortified 
walls. Here, too, was a granary, and some of the 
larger places had also their school-tower attached 
to the church. It happened not unfrequently that 
the villagers were obliged to remain for some weeks 
in their sanctuary. 

Heltau is an industrious little place. Here is 
manufactured the peculiar white frieze so much 
worn by the Wallacks. Nearly every house has 
its loom, but I was told the trade is less flourishing 
than formerly. The woollen-cloth manufacturers of 
Transylvania have suffered very much from the 
introduction of foreign goods ; but, on the other 
hand, if they would bestir themselves they might 
enormously increase their exports. Heltau is a 
market-place, and reserves many old privileges very 


jealously. Its inhabitants were often in dispute with 
the burghers of Herrmannstadt, and on one occasion 
they had the audacity, in rebuilding their church- 
tower, to place four turrets upon it. Their neigh- 
bours regarded this with great indignation, for are 
not four turrets the sign and symbol of civic autho- 
rity ? The burghers of Herrmannstadt hereupon 
obliged the men of Heltau to sign a bond, saying 
that " they were but humble villagers," and promis- 
ing to treat their haughty neighbours with all due 
"honour, fear, and friendship/' 

From Heltau I went on to Michaelsburg, an 
extremely curious place. In the centre of a lovely 
valley rises a conical rock of gneiss, protruding to 
the height of 200 feet or more. This is crowned by 
the ruins of a Eomanesque church. There are, I 
believe, only two other specimens of this kind of 
architecture in the country. The time of the build- 
ing of Michaelsburg is stated to be between 1173 
and 1223. Before the use of artillery this fortified 
church on the rock must have been really im- 
pregnable. Inside the walls I found a quantity of 
large round stones — the shot and shell of those 
days ; these stones were capable of making con- 
siderable havoc amongst a besieging party I should 
say. The custom was in the old time that no 
young man should be allowed to take unto himself 


a wife till lie had carried one such stone from the 
bed of the river where they are found, to the 
summit of the rock within the church walls. As 
these stones weigh between two and three hundred- 
weight, and the ascent is very steep, it was a test 
of strength. The villagers were anxious to prevent 
the weaklings from marrying lest they should spoil 
the hardy race. 

The view from the village itself is very pretty, 
home-like, and with a more familiar look about the 
vegetation than I had seen elsewhere. There were 
orchards of cherry-trees, and hedges, as in our west 
country, festooned with wild hops and dog-roses. 
Every girl I met was busily engaged plaiting 
straw as she walked. This straw is for hats of 
a particular kind for which the place is famed. 
Besides this industry, the people are great bee- 
keepers, and make a good trade by selling the 
honey. The produce of the hives in the Southern 
Carpathians is the very poetry of honey ; it is per- 
fectly delicious, not surpassed by that of Hymettus 
or Hybla, so famed in ancient story. This " moun- 
tain honey " sometimes reaches the London market, 
but, unfortunately, not with any regularity. It is 
most difficult to make these people practical in 
their trade dealings ; and as for time, they must have 
come into the world before it was talked about. 


I made a short excursion into the Kothen Thurm 
Pass, the principal road across the Southern Car- 
pathians, if we except the Tomoscher Pass from 
Kronstadt, which, owing to local circumstances, has 
become more important. The Eothen Thurm or 
Eed Tower Pass is extremely picturesque. It is 
traversed by the Aluta, which though rising in 
the Szeklerland in the north-east, finds its way 
through the Carpathian range, flowing at length 
into the Lower Danube. The red tower stands at 
the narrowest part of the defile, an important 
position of defence ; and not far from this spot 
signal victory was gained by the Christians over 
the infidels. In the year 1493 the Turks made one 
of their frequent raids into Transylvania. They 
had succeeded in collecting a vast amount of boot}^, 
including many fair young maidens and tender 
youths, and were returning in long cavalcade 
through the Eed Tower Pass. Here, however, they 
fell into an ambuscade arranged by the men of 
Herrmannstadt, headed by their burgomaster, the 
brave George Hecht. At a concerted signal the 
Saxons rushed upon the despoilers with such a 
fierce and sudden onslaught, that though the Turks 
far exceeded them in number, they were completely 
overpowered. Many a turbaned corpse lay that 
day on the green margin of the classical Aluta, and 


few, very few, of the hated Turks, it is said, escaped 
over the frontier to tell the tale of their disaster. 
How many a home must have been gladdened by 
the sight of the rescued children after that happy 
victory ! 

These abductions are not altogether a thing of 
the past. In the autumn of 1875, the very date 
of my tour, a paragraph appeared in a Pest news- 
paper stating that a young girl of great beauty 
in the neighbourhood of Temesvar, in the Banat of 
Hungary, had been secretly carried off into Turkey 
without the knowledge or consent of her parents. 
It was further stated that these scandalous proceed- 
ings were of very frequent occurrence in the border 
provinces. For some years past the supply of 
beautiful Circassians has been deficient, it is said, so 
doubtless the harems of Constantinople are supplied 
with Christian maidens to make up the numbers. 
The late Sultan — I mean the one who committed 
suicide — was considered a moderate man, and he 
had eight hundred women in his harem, at least 
so a relative of mine was credibly informed at 


Magyar intolerance of the German — Patriotic revival of the Magyar 
language — Eide from Herrmannstadt to Kronstadt — The village 
of Zeiden — Curious scene in church — Reformation in Tran- 
sylvania — Political bitterness between Saxons and Magyars in 


My horse being all right again, I thought it high 
time to push on to Kronstadt, which is nearly ninety 
miles from Herrmannstadt by road. There is railway 
communication, but not direct ; you have to get on 
the main line at the junction of Klein Kopisch — in 
Hungarian, Kis Kapus — and hence to Kronstadt, 
called Brasso by the non-Germans. This confusion 
of names is very difficult for a foreigner when con- 
sulting the railway tables. I have often seen the 
names of stations put up in three languages. Herr- 
mannstadt is Nagy Szeben. The confusion of tongues 
in Hungary is one of the greatest stumbling-blocks 
to progress ; and unfortunately it is considered 
patriotic by the Magyar to speak his own language 
and ignore that of his neighbour. 


It happened to me once that I entered an inn in 
a Hungarian town, and addressing the waiter, I gave 
my orders in German, whereupon an elderly gentle- 
man turned sharply upon me, saying — also in Ger- 
man, observe — " It is the custom to speak Hun- 
garian here." 

" I am not acquainted with the language, sir," I 
replied. " German is not to be spoken here — Hun- 
garian or nothing," he retorted. I simply turned on 
my heel with a gesture of impatience. It was rather 
too much for any old fellow, however venerable and 
patriotic, to condemn me to silence and starvation 
because I could not speak the national lingo, so in 
the irritation of the moment I rapped out an English 
expletive, meant as an aside. Enough ! No sooner 
did the testy old gentleman hear the familiar sound, 
invariably associated with the travelling Britisher 
in old days, than he turned to me with the utmost 
urbanity, saying in French, " Pardon a thousand 
times, I thought you were a German from the fluency 
of your speech ; I had no idea you were an English- 
man. Why did you not tell me at once ? What 
orders shall I give for you \ How can I help you ?" 
It ended in our dining together and becoming the 
best friends ; in fact he invited me to spend a week 
with him at his chateau in the neighbourhood. In 
the course of conversation I could not help asking 


him why, as he spoke German himself and the people 
in the inn also understood it — in fact I am not sure 
but what it was their mother-tongue — why he would 
not allow the language to be spoken ? 

" We are Hungarians here," he replied, going off 
into testiness again, " and we do not want that 
cursed German spoken on all sides. I, for one, will 
move heaven and earth to get my own language 
used in my own country. Ha, ha ! the Austrians 
wanted us to have their officials everywhere on the 
railway. We have put a stop to that ; now every 
man-jack of them must speak Hungarian. It gave 
an immensity of trouble, and they did not like it at 
all, I can tell you." 

I did not attempt to argue with the old gentle- 
man, for his views were inextricably mixed up with 
feelings and patriotism. 

As a matter of fact, in the early part of this 
century the Magyar language was hardly spoken by 
the upper classes except in communicating with their 
inferiors ; but when the patriotic Count Stephen 
Szechenyi first roused his fellow-countrymen to 
nobler impulses and more enlightened views, he held 
forth the restoration of the national language as the 
first necessity of their position. In his time it meant 
breaking down the barrier which separated classes. 
He was the first in the Chamber of Magnates who 


spoke in the tongue understood by the people ; 
hitherto Latin had been the language of the Cham- 
bers. With the exception of a group of poets — 
Var6smazty, Petoefy, Kolcsey, and the brothers 
Kisfaludy — there were hardly any writers who em- 
ployed their native language in literature or science. 
Count Szechenyi set the fashion, he wrote his political 
works in Hungarian, and what was more, assisted 
in establishing a national theatre. 

There is perhaps no place where Shakespeare is 
so often given as at the Hungarian theatre at Buda- 
pest, and it is said by competent judges that their 
translation of our great poet is unequalled in any 
language, German not excepted. 

To a foreigner the Hungarian tongue appears very 
difficult, because of its isolated character and its 
striking difference from any other European language. 
In Cox's ' Travels in Sweden/ published in the last 
century, he mentions that Sainovits, a learned 
Jesuit, a native of Hungary, who had gone to 
Lapland to observe the transit of Venus in 1775, 
remarked that the Hungarian and Lapland idioms 
were the same ; and he further stated that many 
words were identical. As a Turanian language, 
Hungarian has also an alliance with the Turkish as 
well as the Finnish ; but there are only six and 
a half millions of Magyars who speak the language, 


and by no possibility can it be adopted by any other 

For their men of letters it is an undeniable mis- 
fortune to have so restricted a public ; a translated 
work is never quite the same. The question of lan- 
guage must also limit the choice of professors in the 
higher schools and at the university. But political 
grievances are mixed up with the language ques- 
tion, and of those I will not speak now, while I am 
still in Saxonland, where they do not love the 
Magyar or anything belonging to him. 

Eeturning to the itinerary of my route, I left 
Herrmannstadt very early one morning, getting to 
Fogaras by four o'clock ; it was about forty-seven 
miles of good road. This little town is celebrated 
for the cultivation of tobacco. There is a large inn 
here, which looked promising from the outside, but 
that was all ; it had no inside to speak of — no food, 
no stable-boy, nothing. After foraging about I 
got something to eat with great difficulty, and 
feeling much disgusted with my quarters, I sallied 
forth to find the clergyman of the place, to whom 
I introduced myself. 

I spent the evening at his house, and found him 
a very jolly old fellow ; he entertained me with a 
variety of good stories, some of them relating to the 
tobacco-smuggling. The peasants are allowed to 


grow the precious weed on condition that they sell 
it all to the State at a fixed rate. Naturally, if they 
otherwise disposed of it, they would be able to make 
a much larger profit, as it is a monopoly of the 
State. They have a peculiar way of mystifying the 
exciseman as to the number of leaves on a string, 
for this is the regulation way of reckoning ; besides 
which, wholesale smuggling goes on at times, and 
waggon-loads are got away. Occasionally there is 
a fight between the officials and the peasants. 

I had intended getting on to Kronstadt the next 
day, but I stopped at the Saxon village of Zeiden. 
The clergyman, on hearing that there was a stranger 
in the place, hastened to the inn, where he found 
me calmly discussing my mid-day meal. He would 
not hear of my going on to Kronstadt, but kindly 
invited me to be his guest. I heard a great deal 
later of his unvarying hospitality to strangers. 

The next day being Sunday, of course I went to 
church with my host. The congregation, including 
their pastor, wore the costume of the middle ages ; 
it was a most curious and interesting sight. I am 
never a good hand at describing the details of dress, 
but I know my impression was that the pastor — 
wearing a ruff, I think, or something like it — might 
just have walked out of a picture, such as one 
knows so well of the old Puritans in Cromwell's 


time. The dress of the peasants, though unlike the 
English fashion of any period, had an old-world look. 
The married women wore white kerchiefs twisted 
round the head, sleeveless jackets, with a mystery 
of lace adornments. The marriageable girls sat to- 
gether in one part of the church, which I thought 
very funny ; they wore drum-shaped hats poised 
on the head in a droll sort of way. Some of 
them had a kind of white leather pelisse beautifully 
wrought with embroidery. Each girl carried a 
large bouquet of flowers. These blue-eyed German 
maidens were many of them very pretty, and all 
were fresh looking and exquisitely neat. It was 
an impressive moment when the whole congregation 
joined in singing — 

" Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott ; n 

" the Marseillaise of the Keformation," as Heine 
calls Luther s hymn, " that defiant strain that up 
to our time has preserved its inspiring power." 

The Keformation spread with wonderful rapidity 
throughout the length and breadth of Hungary, 
more especially in Transylvania. It appears that 
the merchants of Herrmannstadt, who were in the 
habit of attending the great fair at Leipsic, brought 
back Luther's writings, which had the effect of set- 
ting fire to men's minds. At one time more than 
half Hungary had declared for the new doc- 


trines, but terrible persecutions thinned their ranks. 
According to the latest statistics there are 1,109,154 
Lutherans and 2,024,332 Calvinists in Hungary. 
The Saxons of Transylvania belong almost ex- 
clusively to the Eeformed faith ; they had always 
preserved in a remarkable degree their love for 
civil and political freedom, hence their minds were 
prepared to receive Protestantism. Three monks 
from Silesia, converts to Luther's views, came into 
these parts to preach, passing from one village to 
another, and in the towns they " held catechisings 
and preachings in the public squares and market- 
places/' where crowds came from all the country 
round to hear them. The peasants went back to 
their mountain homes with Bibles in their hands ; 
and since that time the simple folk, through wars 
and persecutions, have held steadfast to their faith. 

Herrmannstadt became a second Wittenberg : the 
new doctrine was not more powerful in the town 
where Luther lived. Several bishops joined the 
party of the seceders, and already the towns 
throughout Hungary had generally declared for the 
Eeformation ; in many the " Catholic priests were 
left, as shepherds without flocks." l When Popish 
ceremonies aroused the ridicule of the people, and 

1 See The History of Protestantism, by Rev. J. A. Wylie, 
Part 29. 


when even in country districts the priests who 
came to demand their tithes were dismissed without 
their "fat ducks and geese/' there was a general 
outcry against the new heresy. The Eomish party 
knew their strength at the Court of Vienna. At 
the instigation of the Papal legate Cajetan, Louis 
II. issued the terrible edict of 1523, which ran as 
follows : " All Lutherans, and those who favour 
them, as well as all adherents to their sect, shall 
have their property confiscated and themselves be 
punished with death as heretics and foes of the 
most holy Virgin Mary." 

While the monks were stirring up their partisans 
to have the Lutherans put to death, a national 
misfortune happened which saved Protestantism, 
at least in Transylvania. Soliman the Magnificent 
set out from Constantinople in the spring of 1526 
with a mighty host, which came nearer and nearer 
to Hungary like the " wasting levin." King Louis 
lost his army and his life at the battle of Mohacks, 
leaving the Turks to pursue their way into the 
heart of the country, slaughtering upwards of 
200,000 of its inhabitants. To this calamity, as 
we all know, succeeded an internal civil war, result- 
ing from the rival claims of John Zapolya and the 
Archduke Ferdinand of Austria for the crown of 
Hungary. Transylvania took advantage of this 


critical time to achieve her independence under 
Zapolya, consenting to pay tribute to the Porte 
on condition of receiving assistance against the 
tyranny of Austria. Thus it came about that 
the infidel Turks helped to preserve the Keforma- 
tion in this part of Europe : they became the 
defenders of Protestant Transylvania against the 
tyranny of Roman Catholic Austria. " Sell what 
thou hast and depart into Transylvania, where thou 
wilt have liberty to profess the truth/' were the 
words spoken by King Ferdinand himself to Stephen 
Szantai, a zealous preacher of the gospel in Upper 
Hungary, whom he desired to defend. 

It is said that the first printing-press set up in 
Hungary was the gift of Count Nadasdy to Matthias 
Devay, who was devoted to the education of youth ; 
and the first work that was issued from the press 
was a book for children, teaching the rudiments of 
the gospel in the language of the country. The 
same Protestant nobleman aided the publication in 
1541 of an edition of the New Testament in the 
Magyar tongue. " It is a remarkable fact," says 
Mr Patterson, 1 " connected with the history of 
Protestantism, that all its converts were made 
within the pale of Latin Christianity. In the 
nationalities of Hungary there belonged to Latin 

1 The Magyars ; their Country and Institutions. 


Christianity the Magyars, the Slovacks, and the 

In Transylvania the progress of Protestantism 
was secured. In 1553 the Diet declared in favour 
of the Eeformation by a majority of votes, and 
while the province was governed by Petrovich, 
during the minority of Zapolya's infant son, he 
freed the whole of Transylvania from the jurisdic- 
tion of the Eoman hierarchy. 

When the Turks were finally expelled from 
Hungary by the second battle of Mohacks in 1686, 
Protestantism had grown strong enough in Transyl- 
vania to extract from the house of Hapsburg the 
celebrated Diploma Leopoldium (their Magna 
Charta), which secured to them religious liberty 
once and for ever. 


Political difficulties — Impatient criticism of foreigners — Hungary 
has everything to do — Tenant-farmers wanted — Wages. 

It is remarkable that the Saxons in Transylvania, 
who had suffered so much tribulation from the 
religious persecutions of the house of Hapsburg, 
preferring even to shelter themselves under the 
protection of the Turk, should be the first to 
support the tyranny of Austria against the Magyars 
in 1848. 

I visited at the house of a village pastor, who 
told me he had himself led four hundred Saxons 
against the Hungarians at that time. The remem- 
brance of that era is not yet effaced; so many 
people not much beyond middle age had taken 
part in the war that the bitterness has not passed 
out of the personal stage. Pacification and recon- 
ciliation, and all the Christian virtues, have been 
evoked ; but underlying the calm surface, all the 
old hatreds of race still exist. Nothing assimilates 
socially or politically in Hungary. The troubled 


history of the past reappears in the political 
difficulty of the present. And what can be done 
when the Magyar will not hold with the Saxon, 
and the Saxon cannot away with the Szekler % 
Are not the ever - increasing Wallacks getting 
numerically ahead of the rest, while the Southern 
Slavs threaten the integrity of the empire % 

Prosperity is the best solvent for disaffection. 
When the resources of Hungary are properly 
developed, and wealth results to the many, bring- 
ing education and general enlightenment in its 
train, there will be a common ground of interest, 
even amongst those who differ in race, religion, and 
language. It was a saying of the patriotic Count 
Szechenyi, and the saying has passed into a proverb, 
" Make money, and enrich the country ; an empty 
sack will topple over, but if you fill it, it will stand 
by its own weight." 

" You call yourselves 'the English of the East/" 
I said one day to a Hungarian friend of mine ; 
" but how is it you are not more practical, since you 
pay us the compliment of following our lead in 
many things \ " 

" You do not see that in many respects we are 
children, the Hungarians are children/' replied my 
friend. " ' We are not, but we shall be/ said one 
of our patriots. You Britishers are rash in your 


impatient criticism of a state which has not come 
to its full growth. It is hardly thirty years since 
we emerged from the middle ages, so to speak ; 
and you expect our civilisation to have the well- 
worn polish of Western States. Think how recently 
we have emancipated our serfs, and reformed our 
constitution and our laws. Take into account, too, 
that just as we were setting our house in order, 
the enemy was at the gate — progress was arrested, 
and our national life paralysed ; but let that pass, 
we don't want to look back, we want to look 
forward. We have still to build up the struc- 
ture that with you is finished ; we are deficient in 
everything that a state wants in these days, and 
in our haste to make railways, roads, and bridges, 
to erect public buildings, and to promote industrial 
enterprises, we make certain financial blunders. 
You must not forget that we in Hungary are 
much in the same state that you were in England 
in the thirteenth century, before tenant-holdings 
had become general. We shall gradually learn to 
see the advantages to be derived from letting land 
on your farm system. There is nothing we desire 
so much as the creation of the tenant-farmer class, 
which hardly exists yet. Large estates would be 
far better divided and let as farms on your system. 
We are in a transition state as regards many things 


in agricultural matters. English or Scotch farmers 
would be welcomed over here by the great land- 
owners. Your countryman, Professor Wrightson, 
convinced himself of this when he was here in 
1873. If they could command some capital, the 
produce of the land in many instances could be 

I asked my friend about labourers' wages, but he 
said it was difficult to give any fixed rate. A mere 
agricultural day-labourer would get from Is. 3d. to 
Is. 6d. ; sometimes the evil practice of paying wages 
in kind obtained — viz., a man receives so much 
Indian corn (kukoricz). And not unfrequently a 
peasant undertakes to plough the fields twice, to 
hoe them three times, and to see the crop housed, for 
which he receives the half of the yield provided he 
has furnished the seed. The peasants' own lands, as 
a rule, are very badly managed ; their ploughing is 
shallow, and they do nothing or next to nothing in 
the way of drainage. 


Want of progress amongst the Saxons — The Burzenland — Kronstadt 
— Mixed character of its inhabitants — Szeklers — General Bern's 

It was a glorious morning when I left the comfort- 
able village of Zeiden. Before me were the rich 
pastures of the Burzenland, a tract which tradition 
says was once filled up by the waters of a great 
lake, till some Saxon hero hewed a passage through 
the mountains in the Geisterwald for the riyer 
Aluta, thus draining this fertile region. 

The mountainous wall to the rear of Zeiden is 
clothed by magnificent hanging woods, which at 
the time I describe were just tinged with the first 
rich touches of autumn. It was a lovely ride 
through this fertile vale. On every side I saw my- 
self surrounded by the lofty Carpathians, or the lesser 
spurs of that grand range of mountains ; the higher 
peaks to the south and south-east were already 
capped with snow. The village in which I had so 
agreeably sojourned for a couple of days almost rises 
to the dignity of a little town, for it has nearly 


4000 inhabitants. Considering its situation, on 
the verge of this rich plain, and many other local 
circumstances, it is, I suppose, a very favourable 
example of a German settlement in Transylvania. 
I had been struck by the extreme neatness of the 
dwellings and the generally well-to-do air of the 
people, but there is nothing progressive about these 
Saxons. I saw plainly that what their fathers did 
before them they do themselves, and expect their 
sons to follow in the same groove. There is 
amongst them generally a dead level of content 
incomprehensible to a restless Englishman. 

When I asked why they did not try to turn this 
or that natural advantage to account, I was met 
with the reply, " Our fathers have done very well 
without it, why should not we V I could never dis- 
cover any inclination amongst the Saxons to initiate 
any fresh commercial enterprise either at home or 
abroad, nor would they respond with any interest to 
the most tempting suggestions as to ways and means 
of increasing their possessions. It is all very well 
to draw the moral picture of a contented people. 
Contentment under some circumstances is the first 
stage of rottenness. The inevitable law of change 
works the deterioration of a race which does not pro- 
gress. This fact admits of practical proof here. For 
instance, the cloth manufactures of Transylvania 


are falling into decay, and there is nothing else of 
an industrial kind substituted. The result is a 
decrease of the general prosperity, and a marked 
diminution in the population of the towns. Nor is 
this the case in populous places only. The Saxon 
villager desires to transmit the small estate he de- 
rived from his father intact to his only son. He does 
not desire a large family ; it would tax his energies 
too much to provide for that. It is deeply to be 
lamented that a superior race like the educated Sax- 
ons of Transylvania, who held their own so bravely 
against Turk and Tartar, and, what was more diffi- 
cult still, preserved their religious liberty in spite of 
Austrian Jesuits, should now be losing their political 
ascendancy, owing mainly to their displacement by 
the Wallacks. According to the last census, the 
German immigrants in Hungary are estimated at 
1,820,922. I have no means of making an accu- 
rate comparison, but I hear on all hands that the 
numbers are diminished. There are, besides, proofs 
of it in the case of villages which were exclusively 
Saxon having now become partly, even wholly, 

There are wonderfully few chateaux in this 
picturesque land. In my frequent rides over the 
Burzenland I rarely saw any dwellings above what 
we should attribute to a yeoman farmer. As a 


matter of fact there are fewer aristocrats in this 
part of Hungary, or perhaps I should say this part 
of Transylvania, than in any other. 

After my pleasant morning's ride I found myself 
at Kronstadt, and put up at Hotel "No. 1" — an 
odd name for a fairly good inn. There is another 
farther in town — the Hotel Bucharest — also a place 
of some pretension. The charges for rooms gener- 
ally in the country are out of all proportion to the ac- 
commodation given. Travellers are rare, at least they 
used to be before the present war ; but Kronstadt is 
the terminus of the direct railway from Buda-Pest, 
which, communicating with the Tomoscher Pass over 
the Carpathians, is the shortest route to Bucharest. 

As far as the buildings are concerned, Kronstadt 
has much the air of an old-fashioned German 
town. As you pass along the streets you get a peep 
now and then of picturesque interior courtyards, 
seen through the wide-arched doorways. These 
courts are mostly surrounded by an open arcade. 
Generally in the centre of each is set a large 
green tub holding an oleander-tree. This gives 
rather an Oriental appearance to these interiors. 
The East and West are here mixed up together 
most curiously. Amongst the fair-haired, blue-eyed 
Saxons are dusky Armenians and black-ringleted 
Jews, wearing strange garments. By the way, the 


merchants of these two races have ousted the Saxon 
trader from the field ; commerce is almost com- 
pletely in their hands. 

The market-day at Kronstadt is a most curious 
and interesting sight. The country-people come in, 
sitting in their long waggons, drawn by four horses 
abreast, they themselves dressed in cloaks of snow- 
white sheepskins, or richly - embroidered white 
leather coats lined with black fur. The head-gear 
too is very comely, and very dissimilar ; for there 
are flat fur caps — like an exaggerated Glengarry 
—and peaked hats, and drum-shaped hats for the 
girls, while the close-twisted white kerchief denotes 
the matron. The "Wallack maiden is adorned by her 
dowry of coins hanging over head and shoulders, 
and with braids of plaited black hair — mingled, I 
am afraid, with tow, if the truth must be spoken. 

Kronstadt is rather a considerable place ; the popu- 
lation is stated to be 27,766, composed of Saxons, 
Szeklers, and Wallacks, who have each their sepa- 
rate quarter. It is most beautifully situated, quite 
amongst the mountains ; in fact it is 2000 feet above 
the sea-level. The Saxon part of the town is built 
in the opening of a richly- wooded valley. The ap- 
proach from the vale beyond — the Burzenland, of 
which I have spoken before — is guarded by a singular 
isolated rock, a spur of the mountain-chain. This 


natural defence is crowned by a fortress, which 
forms a very picturesque feature in the landscape. 
Formerly the town was completely surrounded by 
walls, curtained on the hillside, reminding one of 
Lucern's " coronal of towers." In the " brave days 
of old " the trade-guilds were severally allotted their 
forts for the defence of the town — no holiday task 
for volunteers, as in our " right little, tight little 

Though the dangers of the frontier are by no 
means a thing of the past, the town walls and the 
towers are mainly in ruins, overgrown with wild 
vines and other luxuriant vegetation. As no guide- 
book exists to tell one what one ought to see, and 
where one ought to go, I had all the pleasure of 
poking about and coming upon surprises. I was 
not aware that the church at Kronstadt is about 
the finest specimen of fourteenth-century Gothic in 
Transylvania, ranking second only to the Cathe- 
dral of Kashau in Upper Hungary. 

My first walk was to the Kapellenburg, a hill 
which rises abruptly from the very walls of the 
town. An hour's climb through a shady zigzag 
brought me to the summit. From thence I could 
see the " seven villages " which, according to some 
persons, gave the German name to the province, 
Siebenburgen, " seven towns." The level Burzen- 


land looked almost like a green lake ; beyond it the 
chain of the Carpathian takes a bend, forming the 
frontier of Koumania. The highest point seen from 
thence is the Schtilerberg, upwards of 8000 feet, and 
a little farther off the Konigstein, and the But- 
schrtsch, the latter reaching 9526 feet. Hardly less 
picturesque is the view from the Castle Hill. Quite 
separated from the rest of the town is the quarter 
inhabited by the Szeklers. This people constitute 
one of four principal races inhabiting Transylvania. 
They are of Turanian origin, like the Magyars, but 
apparently an older branch of the family. When 
the Magyars overran Pannonia in the tenth century, 
under the headship of the great Arpad, they appear to 
have found the Szeklers already in possession of part 
of the vast Carpathian horseshoe — that part known to 
us as the Transylvanian frontier of Moldavia. They 
claim to have come hither as early as the fourth 
century. It is known that an earlier wave of the 
Turanians had swept over Europe before the in- 
coming of the Magyars, and the so-called Szeklers 
were probably a tribe or remnant of this invasion, 
the date of which, however, is wrapped in no little 

This is certain, that they have preserved their 
independence throughout all these ages in a very 
remarkable manner. " They are all ' noble/" says Mr 


Boner, " and proudly and steadfastly adhere to and 
uphold their old rights and privileges, such as right of 
hunting and of pasture. They had their own judges, 
and acknowledged the authority of none beside. Like 
their ancestors the Huns, they loved fighting, and were 
the best soldiers that Bern had in his army. They 
guarded the frontier, and guarded it well, of their 
own free-will ; but they would not be compelled to 
do so, and the very circumstance that Austria, when 
the border system was established, obliged them to 
furnish a contingent of one infantry and two hussar 
regiments sufficed to alienate their regard." 1 In 
another place Mr Boner says, "The Szekler soldier, 
I was told, was ' excessive/ which means extreme, in 
all he did." 

In the view of recent events, it may be worth 
while to recall to mind a few particulars of General 
Bern's campaign in Transylvania. In no part of 
Hungary was the war of independence waged with 
so much bitterness as down here on these border- 
lands. The Saxons and the Wallacks were bitterly 
opposed to the Magyars ; and on the 12th of May, 
in the eventful '48, a popular meeting was held 
at Kronstadt, where they protested vehemently 
against union with Hungary, and swore allegiance 
to the Emperor of Austria. Upon this the Szeklers 

1 Boner's Transylvania, p. 624. 


flew to arms — on the side of the Magyars, of course ; 
throughout their history they have always made 
common cause with them. In the autumn of the 
same year, Joseph Bern, a native of Galicia, who 
had fought under Marshal Davoust, later with 
Macdonald at the siege of Hamburg, and had also 
taken part in the Polish insurrection of 1830, 
attached himself to the Hungarian cause. He had 
formed a body of troops from the wrecks and rem- 
nants of other corps, and soon by his admirable 
tactics succeeded on two occasions in beating the 
Austrians at the very outset of his campaign ; the 
latter of these victories was near Dees, to the north 
of Klausenburg, where he defeated General War- 
dener. The winter of that terrible year wore on. 
In Transylvania it was not merely keeping back the 
common enemy, the invader of the soil, but it was 
a case where the foes were of the same township, 
and the nearest neighbours confronted each other on 
opposite ranks. 

The Austrians meanwhile had called in the 
Kussians to aid them in crushing the Hungarians ; 
and at the time it was believed that the Saxons of 
Transylvania had instigated this measure. It is 
easy to understand how the Eussians would be 
hated along with their allies ; it was a desperate 
struggle, and well fought out by Magyars and 


Szeklers, ably handled by General Bern. Herr- 
mannstadt and Kronstadt both fell into his hands, 
after a vigorous defence by the Austro-Russian 
garrisons ; in fact, by the middle of March ? 49, 
the whole of Transylvania, with the exception of 
Karlsburg and Deva, was held by the troops of this 
fortunate general. But, as we all know, the Hun- 
garian arms were not so successful elsewhere, and 
the end of that struggle was approaching, which 
was to find its saddest hour at Villagos on the 13th 
of August, when the Hungarians were cajoled into 
laying down their arms before the Russians ! 

The rest of the miserable story had better not be 
dwelt upon. Much has changed in these few years. 
Now a Hapsburg recognises the privilege of mercy 
amongst his kingly attributes. The last words of 
Maximilian, the ill-fated Emperor of Mexico, were, 
" Let my blood be the last shed as an offering for 
my country." Since then capital punishment has 
become of rare occurrence in Austria ; and remem- 
bering his brother's death, the Emperor, it is said, 
can hardly be induced to sign a death-warrant ! 


The Tomoscher Pass — Projected railway from Kronstaclt to Bucharest 
— Visit to the cavalry barracks at Rosenau — Terzburg Pass — 
Dr Daubeny on the extinct volcanoes of Hungary — Professor 
Judd on mineral deposits. 

Kronstadt is a capital place as headquarters for 
any one who desires to explore the neighbouring 
country. One of my first expeditions was to Sinia, 
a small bath-place in the Tomoscher Pass, just over 
the borders — in fact in Eoumania. Here Prince 
Charles has a charming chateau, and there are 
besides several ambitious Swiss cottages belonging 
to the wealthy grandees of Eoumania. My object 
was not so much to see the little place, as it was 
to explore this pass of the Carpathians, now so 
familiar to newspaper correspondents and others 
since the Eusso-Turkish war began. 

As I mentioned before, a railway is projected from 
Kronstadt through this pass, which will meet the 
Lemberg and Bucharest line at Ployesti, that station 
being less than two hours from the Eoumanian 
capital. Up to the present hour not a sod of this 


railway has been turned ; but curiously enough, 
with only two or three exceptions, all the " war 
maps " have made the capital mistake of marking it 
down as a completed line. In the autumn of 1875, 
when I was there, the levels had been taken and 
the course marked down ; if it is ever really carried 
out, it will be one of the most beautiful railway 
drives in Europe. It is a most important link in 
the railway system of Eastern Europe. The 
Danube route is frequently, indeed periodically, 
closed by the winter's ice, and sometimes by the 
drought of summer, in which case the traveller who 
wants to get to Eoumania must take the train from 
Buda-Pest to Kronstadt, and thence by road through 
the Tomoscher Pass to Ployesti. 

There is a diligence service twice daily, occupying 
fourteen hours or thereabouts, dependent, of course, 
on the state of the roads, which can be very bad — 
inconceivably bad. For the sake of the excursion 
I took a place in the postwagen one day as far as 
Sinia, where there is a modern hotel and very toler- 
able quarters. The scenery of the pass is very 
romantic. In places the road winds round the face 
of the precipice, and far below is a deep sunless 
glen, through which the mountain torrent rushes 
noisily over its rocky bed ; at other times you skirt 
the stream with its green margin of meadow — a 


pastoral oasis amidst the wild grandeur of bare 
limestone peaks and snowy summits. The autum- 
nal colouring on the hanging woods of oak and 
beech was something more brilliant than I ever 
remember to have seen ; the effect of being oneself 
in shadow and seeing the glory of the sunlight on 
the foliage of the other side of the defile, was most 
striking. Above this ruby mountain rose other 
heights with a girdle of dark fir, and higher still 
were visible yet loftier peaks, clothed in the dazzling 
whiteness of fresh-fallen snow. In the Southern 
Carpathians there is no region of perpetual snow, 
but the higher summits are generally snow-clad late 
in the spring and very early in the autumn. I was 
told there is good bear-hunting in this district. 

While at Kronstadt I made the acquaintance of 
some Austrian officers quartered in the neighbour- 
hood. They kindly invited me to the cavalry 
barracks at Eosenau, and accordingly I went over 
for a few days. The barracks were built by the 
people of the village, or rather small town, of 
Rosenau ; for they were obliged by law to quarter 
the military, and to avoid the inconvenience of 
having soldiers billeted upon them they constructed 
a suitable building. The cavalry horses were nearly 
all in a bad plight when I was there, for they had 
an epidemic of influenza amongst them ; but we 


found a couple of nags to scramble about with, and 
made some pleasant excursions. One of our rides 
was to a place called " The Desolate Path," a singu- 
larly wild bit of scenery, and curiously in contrast 
to the rich fertility of Rosenau and its immediate 
neighbourhood. This pretty little market town 
lies at the foot of a hill, which is crowned with a 
romantic ruin, one of the seven burgher fortresses 
built by the Saxon immigrants. There is a re- 
markably pretty walk from the village to the 
" Odenweg," a romantic ravine, with beautiful 
hanging woods and castellated rocks disposed about 
in every sort of fantastic form. It reminded me 
somewhat of some parts of the Odenwald near 
Heidelberg. Very likely the wild and mysterious 
character of the spot led the German settlers to 
associate with it the name of Oden. 

We also rode over the Terzburg Pass. The pic- 
turesque castle which gives its name to this pass is 
situated on an isolated rock, admirably calculated 
for defence in the old days. It belonged once upon 
a time to the Teutonic Knights, who held it on 
condition of defending the frontier; but they be- 
came so intolerable to the burghers of Kronstadt, 
that these informed their sovereign that they pre- 
ferred being their own defenders, and thus the castle 
and nine villages were given over to the town. 


The Germans who had left their own Ehine country 
for the sake of getting away from the robber 
knights were not anxious for that special mediaeval 
institution to accompany them in their flitting, we 
may be sure. The democratic character of the laws 
and customs of the Germans of Transylvania is a 
very curious and interesting study ; in not a few 
instances these people have anticipated by some 
centuries the liberal ideas of Western Europe in our 
own day. 

After returning from the visit to my military 
friends at Kosenau, I was told I must not omit 
to make some excursions to the celebrated mineral 
watering-places of Transylvania. The chief baths 
in this locality are Elopatak and Tusnad. The first 
named is four hours' drive from Kronstadt. The 
waters contain a great deal of protoxide of iron, 
stronger even than those of Schwalbach, which they 
resemble. Tusnad, I was told, is pleasantly situated 
on the river Aluta, an excellent stream for fishing. 
The post goes daily in eight hours from Kronstadt. 
The season is very short, being over in August. 
Tusnad is said to contain one hundred springs of 
different kinds of water. I am not a water-totaller, 
so I did not taste all of them when I visited the 
place later on; but undoubtedly alum, iodine, and 
iron do severally impregnate the various springs. 


I remembered reading long ago Dr Daubeny s 
work on "Volcanoes/' in which he says that Hun- 
gary is one of the most remarkable countries in 
Europe for the scale on which volcanic operation 
has taken place. There are, it is stated, seven 
well-marked mountain groups of volcanic rocks, 
and two of these are in Transylvania. The most 
interesting in many respects is the chain of hills 
separating Szeklerland from Transylvania Proper. 
It is within this district that most of the mineral 
springs are found. 

These volcanic rocks are of undoubted Tertiary 
origin, say the geologists. The whole range is for 
the most part composed of various kinds of trachytic 
conglomerate. " From the midst of these vast 
tufaceous deposits, the tops of the hills, composed 
of trachyte, a rock which forms all the loftiest 
eminences, here and there emerge. . . . The 
trachyte is ordinarily reddish, greyish, or blackish ; 
it mostly contains mica. In the southern parts, 
as near Csik Szereda, the trachyte encloses large 
masses, sometimes forming even small hillocks, of 
that variety of which millstones are made, having 
quartz crystals disseminated through it, and in 
general indurated by silicious matter in so fine a 
state of division that the parts are nearly invisible. 
The latter substance seems to be the result of a 


kind of sublimation which took place at the moment 
of the formation of the trachyte. . . . Distinct craters 
are only seen at the southern extremity of the chain. 
One of the finest observed by Dr Bone was to the 
south of Tusnad. It was of great size and well 
characterised, surrounded by pretty steep and lofty 
hills composed of trachyte. The bottom of the 
hollow was full of water. The ground near has a 
very strong sulphureous odour. A mile to the SSE. 
direction from this point there are on the tableland 
two large and distinct maars like those of the 
Eifel — that is to say, old craters, which have been 
lakes, and are now covered with a thick coat of 
marsh plants. The cattle dare not graze upon them 
for fear of sinking in. Some miles farther in the 
same direction is the well-known hill of Budoshegy 
(or hill of bad smell), a trachytic mountain, near 
the summit of which is a distinct rent, exhaling 
very hot sulphureous vapours. . . . The craters 
here described have thrown out a vast quantity of 
pumice, which now forms a deposit of greater or 
less thickness along the Aluta and the Marosch from 
Tusnad to Toplitza. Impressions of plants and 
some silicious wood are likewise to be found in it." 1 
Since Dr Daubeny's time there have been many 

1 A Description of Active and Extinct Volcanoes, by C. Daubeny, 
p. 133. 1848. 


observers over the same ground, the most dis- 
tinguished being the Hungarian geologist Szab6, 
professor at the University of Buda-Pest. A 
countryman of our own has also taken up the 
subject of the ancient volcanoes of Hungary, and 
has recently published a paper on the subject- 
Professor Judd has confined his remarks princi- 
pally to the Schemnitz district in the north of 
Hungary. But the following passage refers to 
the general character of the formation. Professor 
Judd says: 1 "The most interesting fact with regard 
to the constitution of these Hungarian lavas, which 
in the central parts of their masses are often found 
to assume a very coarsely crystalline and almost 
granitic character, while their outer portions pre- 
sent a strikingly scoriaceous or slaggy appearance, 
remains to be noticed. It is, that though the pre- 
dominant felspar in them is always of the basic 
type, yet they not unfrequently contain free 
quartz, sometimes in very large proportion. This 
free quartz is in some cases found to constitute 
large irregular crystalline grains in the mass, just 
like those of the ordinary orthoclase quartz-trachytes; 
but at other times its presence can only be detected 
by the microscope in thin sections. These quartz- 

1 'On the Ancient Volcano of the District of Schemnitz, Hun- 
gary/ Quarterly Journal, Geo. Soc, August 1876. 


iferous andesites were by Stache, who first clearly 
pointed out their true character, styled ' Dacites/ 
from the circumstance of their prevalence in Tran- 
sylvania (the ancient Dacia)." 

In concluding this highly instructive and interest- 
ing memoir of the volcanic rocks of Hungary, Pro- 
fessor Judd says : " The mineral veins of Hungary 
and Transylvania, with their rich deposits of gold 
and silver, cannot be of older date than the Miocene, 
while some of them are certainly more recent than 
the Pliocene. Hence these deposits of ore must all 
have been formed at a later period than the clays 
and sands on which London stands ; while in some 
cases they appear to be of even younger date than 
the gravelly beds of our crags ! " 

For any one who desires to geologise in Hungary 
and Transylvania there is abundant assistance to be 
obtained in the maps which have been issued by the 
Imperial Geological Institute of Vienna, under the 
successive direction of Haidinger and Yon Hauer. 
" These are geologically-coloured copies of the whole 
of the 165 sheets of the military map of the empire ; 
and these have been accompanied by most valuable 
memoirs on the different districts, published in the 
well-known ' Jahrbuch ' of the Institute. Franz 
von Hauer has further completed a reduction of 
these large-scale maps to a general map consisting 


of twelve sheets, with a memoir descriptive of each, 
and has finally in his most valuable and useful 
work, ' Die G-eologie und ihre Anwendung auf die 
Kenntniss der Bodenbeschaffenheit der Osterr- 
ungar. Monarchic/ which is accompanied by a 
single-sheet map of the whole country, summarised 
in a most able manner the entire mass of informa- 
tion hitherto obtained concerning the geology of the 

I have given this passage from Mr Judd's paper 
because there exists a good deal of misapprehension 
amongst English travellers as to what has really been 
done with regard to the geological survey of Austro- 


A ride through Szeklerland — Warnings about robbers — Buksad — A 
look at the sulphur deposits on Mount Biidos — A lonely lake — 
An invitation to Tusnad. 

Feeling curious not only about the geology of the 
Szeklerland, but interested also in the inhabitants, 
I resolved to pursue my journey by going through 
what is called the Csik. I made all my arrange- 
ments to start, but wet weather set in, and I re- 
mained against my inclination at Kronstadt, for I 
was impatient now to be moving onwards. 

When I was in Hungary Proper they told me that 
travelling in Transylvania was very dangerous, and 
that it was a mad notion to think of going about 
there alone. Now that I was in Transylvania, I was 
amused at finding myself most seriously warned 
against the risk of riding alone through the Szekler- 
land. Every one told some fresh story of the in- 
security of the roads. Curiously enough, foreigners 
get off better than the natives themselves ; people of 
indifferent honesty have been known to say, " One 


would not rob a stranger." It happened to me that 
one day when riding along — in this very Szekler- 
land of ill-repute — I dropped my Scotch plaid, and 
did not discover my loss till I arrived at the next 
village, where I was going to sleep. I was much 
vexed, not thinking for a moment that I should ever 
see my useful plaid again. However, before the 
evening was over, a peasant brought it into the inn, 
saying he had found it on* the road, and it must 
belong to the Englishman who was travelling about 
the country. The finder would not accept any 
reward ! 

There was a fair in the town the day I left Kron- 
stadt. The field where it is held is right opposite 
Hotel "No. 1," and the whole place was crowded 
with country-folks in quaint costumes — spruce, 
gaily-dressed people mixed up with Wallack cattle- 
drivers and other picturesque rascals, such as 
gipsies and Jews, and here and there a Turk, and, 
more ragged than all, a sprinkling of refugee 
Bulgarians. Though it was a scene of strange 
incongruities — a very jumble of races — yet it was 
by no means a crowd of roughs ; on the contrary, 
the well-dressed, well-to-do element prevailed. The 
thrifty Saxon was very much there, intent on 
making a good bargain ; the neatly-dressed Szekler 
walked about holding his head on his shoulders 


with an air of resolute self-respect — they are un- 
mistakable, are these proud rustics. Many a 
fair-haired Saxon maiden too tripped along, eyeing 
askance the peculiar "get-up" of the Englishman 
as he was about to mount his noble steed and ride 
forth into the wilds. If I was amused by the 
crowd, I believe the crowd was greatly amused 
at my proceedings. Mine own familiar friend, I 
verily believe, would have passed me by on the other 
side, I cut so queer a figure. As usual on these 
occasions, I had sent forward my portmanteau, this 
time to Maros V^sarhely ; but everything else I 
possessed I carried round about me and my horse 
somehow, and I am not a man "who wants but 
little here below." 

Besides my toilette de voyage, I had my cook- 
ing apparatus, a small jar of Liebig's meat, and 
some compressed tea, and other little odds and ends 
of comforts. I had also provided myself with some 
bacon and slivovitz for barter, a couple of bottles of 
the spirit being turned into a big flask slung along- 
side of my lesser flask for wine. Nor was this all, 
for having duly secured my saddle-bags, I had 
the plaid and mackintosh rolled up neatly and 
strapped in front of the saddle ; then my gun, 
field-glass, and roll of three maps were slung across 
my shoulders. Nota bene my pockets were full to 


repletion. In my leathern belt was stuck a revolver, 
handy, and a bowie-knife not far off. 

But the portrait of this Englishman as he 
appeared to the Kronstadt people on that day is 
not yet complete. His legs were encased in Hessian 
boots ; his shooting-jacket was somewhat the worse 
for wear ; and his hat, which had been eminently 
respectable at first starting, had acquired a sort of 
brigandish air ; and to add to the drollery of his 
general appearance, the excellent little Servian 
horse he rode was not high enough for a man of his 

With my weapons of offence and defence I 
must have appeared a " caution" to robbers, and 
it seems that the business of the fair was sus- 
pended to witness my departure. I was profoundly 
unconscious at the time of the public interest taken 
in my humble self, but later I heard a very hum- 
orous account of the whole proceeding from some 
relatives who visited Kronstadt about three weeks 
afterwards. I believe I am held in remembrance 
in the town as a typical Englishman ! 

Well, to take up the thread of my narrative — 
like Don Quixote, "I travelled all that day." If 
any reader can remember Gustave Dore's illustration 
of the good knight on that occasion, he will have 
some idea of how the sky looked on this very ride of 


mine. As evening approached, the settled grey 
clouds, which had hung overhead like a pall all 
the afternoon, were driven about by a rough wind, 
which went on rising steadily. The grim phantom- 
haunted clouds came closer and closer round about 
me as darkness grew apace, and now and then the 
gust brought with it a vicious "spate" of rain. 
With no immediate prospect of shelter, my position 
became less and less lively. I had not bargained 
for a night on the highroad, or lodgings in a dry 
ditch or under a tree. Indeed those luxuries were 
not at hand ; for trees there were none bordering 
the road, or in the open fields which stretched away 
on either side ; and as for a dry ditch, I heard the 
streams gurgling along the watercourses, which 
were full to overflowing, as well they might be, 
seeing that it had rained for three days. 

My object was to reach the village of Bliksad, 
but where was Bliksad now in reference to myself ? 
I had no idea it was such a devil of a way off when 
I started. I had foolishly omitted to consult the 
map for myself, and had just relied on what I was 
told, though I might have remembered how loosely 
country-people all the world over speak of time and 

When at length the darkness had become per- 
plexing — entre chien et loup, as the saying is — I 


met a peasant with a fierce-looking sheep-dog by 
his side. The brute barked savagely round me as if 
he meant mischief, and I soon told the peasant if 
he did not call off his dog directly I would shoot 
him. He called his dog back, which proved he 
understood German, so I then asked if I was any- 
where near Buksad. To my dismay he informed me 
that it was a long way off ; how long he would not 
say, for without further parley he strode on, and he 
and his dog were soon lost to view in the thick 
misty darkness. 

Not a furlong farther, I came suddenly upon a 
house by the roadside, and a man coming out of 
the door with a light at the same moment enabled 
me to see " Vendeglo " on a small signboard. 
Good-luck : here, then, was an inn, where at least 
shelter was possible ; and shelter was much to be 
desired, seeing that the rain was now a steady down- 
pour. On making inquiries, I found that I was 
already in Buksad. The peasant had played off a 
joke at my expense, or perhaps dealt me a Eoland 
for an Oliver, for threatening to shoot his dog. A 
paprika handl was soon prepared for me. In all 
parts of the country where travellers are possible, 
the invariable reply to a demand for something to 
eat is the query, " Would the gentleman like pap- 
rika handl V and he had better like it, for his 


chances are small of getting anything else. While 
I was seeing after my horse, the woman of the inn 
caught a miserable chicken, which I am sure could 
have had nothing to regret in this life ; and in a 
marvellously short time the bird was stewed in 
red pepper, and called paprika handl. 

I was aware that Count M owned a good 

deal of property in the neighbourhood of Btiksad, 
and as I had a letter of introduction to his bailiff, I 
set off the next morning to find him. My object in 
coming to this particular part of the country was 
principally to explore that curious place Mount 
Budos, mentioned by Dr Daubeny and others. I 
wanted to see for myself what amount of sulphur 
deposits were really to be found there. Count 

M 's bailiff was very ready to be obliging, and 

he provided me with a guide, and further provided 
the guide with a horse, so that I had no difficulty 
in arranging an expedition to the mount of evil 

Having arranged the commissariat as usual, I 
started one fine morning with my guide. We rode 
for about two hours through a forest of majestic 
beech-trees, and then came almost suddenly, without 
any preparation, upon a beautiful mountain lake, 
called St Anna's Lake. It lies in a hollow; the 
hills around, forming cup-like sides, are clothed 


with thick woods down to its very edge. Looking 
down from above, I saw the green reflection of the 
foliage penetrating the pellucid water till it met the 
other heaven reflected below. The effect was very 
singular, and gave one the idea of a lovely bit of 
world and sky turned upside down ; it produced, 
moreover, a sort of fascination, as if one must dive 
down into its luring depths. No human sight or 
sound disturbed the weird beauty of this lonely spot. 
I longed at last to break the oppressive silence, 
and I fired off my revolver. This brought down 
a perfect volley of echoes, and at the same time, 
from the highest crags, out flew some half-dozen 
vultures ; they wheeled round for a few moments, 
then disappeared behind the nearest crest of wood. 

My guide soon set about making a fire ; and 
while dinner was being cooked, I bethought me I 
would have a bath. I took a header from a pro- 
jecting rock, but I very soon made the best of my 
way out of the water again. It was icy cold ; I 
hardly ever recollect feeling any water so cold — I 
suppose because the lake is so much in shadow. 
After the meal we pushed on to Budos, another 
two hours of riding ; this time through a forest so 
dense that we could scarcely make our way. At 
last we reached a path, and this brought us before 
long to a roughly-constructed log-hut. This, I was 


told, was the " summer hotel." Further on there 
were a few more log-huts, the " dependence " of the 
hotel itself. The bathing season was over, so hosts 
and guests had alike departed. This must be 
" roughing it " with a vengeance, I should say ; but 
my guide told me that very "high-born" people 
came here to be cured. 

It is a favourite place, too, for some who desire 
the last cure of all for life's ills ; a single breath of 
the gaseous exhalations is death. One cleft in the 
hill is called the " Murderer;" so fatal are the fumes 
that even birds flying over it are often known to 
drop dead ! The elevation of .Mount Budos is only 
3800 feet; there are several caves immediately 
below the highest point. The principal cave is ten 
feet high and forty feet long, the interior being 
lower than the opening. A mixture of gases is 
exhaled, which, being heavier than the atmosphere, 
fills it up to the level of the entrance ; and when the 
sun is shining into the cave, one can see the 
gaseous fumes swaying to and fro, owing to the 
difference of refraction. 

I experienced a sensation which has often been 
noticed here before. On entering the cave, and 
standing for some minutes immersed in the gas, but 
with my head above it, I had the feeling of warmth 
pervading the lower limbs. I might have believed 


myself to be in a warm bath up to the chest. This 
is a delusion, however, for the gaseous exhalation is 
pronounced by experimenters to be cooler, if any- 
thing, than the air ; I suppose they mean the air of 
an ordinary summer day. The walls of the cave 
are covered with a deposit of sulphur, and at the 
extreme end drops of liquid are continually falling. 
This moisture is esteemed very highly for disease 
of the eyes ; it is collected by the peasants. The 
gas-baths are resorted to by persons suffering from 
gout or rheumatism. They are taken in this 
manner : The patient wears a loose dress over 
nothing else, and arriving at the mouth of the 
cave, he must take one long breath. Instantly 
he runs into the dread cavern, remaining only 
as long as he can hold his breath ; he then 
rushes back again. One single inhalation, and 
he would be as dead as a door-nail ! How the 
halt and lame folk manage I don't know, but my 
guide was eloquent about the wonderful cures that 
are made here every year. 

There are a variety of mineral springs in differ- 
ent parts of the mountain. At the source some 
have the appearance of boiling, from the quantity 
of carbonic acid gas given off; but it is only in 
appearance, for the water is very cold. 

The springs which yield iron and carbonic acid 


are much used for drinking. There are also some 
primitive arrangements for bathing near by. A 
square hole is cut in the ground ; this is boarded 
round, and a simple wooden shed, like a gigantic 
dish-cover, is put over it. Here again my guide 
said that miraculous cures are wrought annually. It 
is a wonder that anybody is left with an ache or a 
pain in a country which has such wonderful waters. 
I think my guide thought I was a doctor, who was 
searching for a new health-resort, and he was quite 
ready to do his share of the puffing. 

On Mount Budos itself, in other parts than the 
cave, there occurs a good deal of sulphur ; specimens 
are often found distributed which are very rich 
indeed. The place certainly deserves a thorough 
exploration, with a view to utilising the sulphur 
deposits ; but it is so overgrown with vegetation 
that the search would involve considerable trouble 
and expense. 

There is a fine view from Mount Budos towards 
Moldavia. I was fortunate in having good lights 
and shades, and therefore enjoyed the prospect most 
thoroughly. I should like to have remained 
longer on the summit, but not being prepared for 
camping out it was not possible ; so very re- 
luctantly we set about returning. 

My guide led me back to Biiksad by another 


route, a rough road, with deep ruts and big stones 
that must make driving in any vehicle, except for 
the honour and glory of it, a very doubtful blessing. 
But bad roads never do seem to matter in Hungary. 
Everybody drives everywhere ; they would drive over 
a glacier if they had one. Occasionally we came 
upon some charming bits of forest scenery. The 
trees were grand, especially the beech ; they were 
of greater girth than any I had yet seen in 
Transylvania. I noticed many mineral springs 
by the roadside ; one could distinguish them by 
the deposit of oxide of iron on the stones near by. 

When I got back to Buksad, I found the bailiff 

waiting to tell me that Count M and Baron 

A desired their compliments, and would be 

pleased to see me at Tusnad, if I would go over 
there. I had no introduction to these noblemen, 
and mention the invitation as an instance of 
Hungarian hospitality. They had simply heard 
that an Englishman was travelling about the 

I rode over to Tusnad the following day, and 
found it, as I had been led to expect, a very 
picturesque little place, a number of Swiss 
cottages dropped down in the clearing of the 
forest, with a good " restauration," built by Count 
M himself. When I was there the season 

TUSNAD. 231 

was over ; but I am told that it is full of fashion- 
ables in June and July, and that the waters have 
an increasing reputation. My attention was drawn 
to the singular fact of two springs bubbling up 
within six feet of each other, which are proved 
by chemical analysis to be distinctly different 

in composition. I fancy Count M was 

much amused at the fact of an English gentle- 
man travelling about alone on horseback, without 
any servants or other impedimenta. I remember 
a friend of mine telling me that once in Italy, 
when he declined to hire a carriage from a peasant 
at a perfectly exorbitant price, and said he preferred 
walking, the fellow called after him, saying, " We all 
know you English are mad enough for anything ! " 
I don t know whether the Hungarian Count drew 
the same conclusion in my case, but I could see he 
was very much amused ; I don't think any other 
people understand the Englishman's love of ad- 


The baths of Tusnad — The state of affairs before 1848 — Inequality 
of taxation — Reform — The existing land laws — Communal pro- 
perty — Complete registration of titles to estates — Question of 

I mixed exclusively in Hungarian society during my 

stay at the baths of Tusnad. With Baron 

and Herr von I talked politics by the hour. 

The Hungarians have the natural gift of eloquence. 
They pour forth their words like the waters of a 
mill-race, no matter in what language. My prin- 
cipal companion at Tusnad spoke French. The true 
Magyar will always employ that language in pre- 
ference to German when speaking with a foreigner ; 
but as often as not the Hungarians of good society 
speak English perfectly well. The younger gene- 
ration, almost without exception, understand our 
language, and are extremely well read in English 

I had so recently left Saxonland, where public 
opinion is opposed to everything that has the 
faintest shade of Magyarism, that I felt in the 


state of Victor Hugo's hero, of whom he said, 
''Son orientation etait changee, ce qui avait ete le 
couchant etait le levant. II s'etait retourne." The 
transition was certainly curious, but I confess to 
getting rather tired of the mutual recriminations 
of political parties ; respecting each other s good 
qualities, they are simply colour-blind. 

After the Saxons had been allowed to drop out 
of the conversation, I led my Magyar friend to 
talk of the state of things before 1848, and to 
enlighten me as to the existing condition of laws 
of property. My Hungarian — who, by the way, 
is a man well qualified to speak about legal 
matters — showered down upon me a perfect ava- 
lanche of facts. Leaving out a few patriotic 
flashes, the substance of what he . told me was 
much as follows. I had especially asked about 
the recent legislation on the land question. 

" In the old time, before '48, the State, the 
Church, and the Nobles were the sole landowners. 
The holding of land was strictly prohibited to all 
who were not noble ; but to the peasants were 
allotted certain tracts, called for distinction ' ses- 
sion-lands/ For this privilege the peasant had to 
give up a tenth part of the produce to the lord, 
and besides he had to work for him two, and in 
some cases even three, days in the week. The 


robot, or forced labour, varied in different 
localities. The lord was judge over his tenants, 
and even his bailiff had the right of administering 
twenty-five lashes to insubordinate peasants. The 
time of the forced labour was at the option of the 
lord, who might oblige his tenant to give his term 
of labour consecutively during seed-sowing or 
harvest, at the very time that the peasant's own 
land required his attendance. It may easily be 
imagined that this was a fruitful cause of dispute 
between the lord and his serfs. 

" But the most glaring act of injustice under 
the old system was that all the taxes were paid 
by the session-holding peasantry, while the nobles 
were privileged and tax-free. They absolutely con- 
tributed nothing to the revenue of the country in 
the way of direct taxes ! 

"This peculiarity of the Constitution made it the 
interest of the Crown to preserve the area of the 
tax-paying peasant-land against the encroachments 
of the tax-free landlord. It often happened that 
on the death or removal of a peasant-holder the 
lord would choose to absorb the session-land 
into the allodium, which, being tax-free, resulted 
in a loss to the imperial revenue. To prevent 
this absorption of session-lands by the landlord, 
and also to accommodate the burdens of the 


peasantry, which had become almost intolerable 
in the last century, owing to the tyranny of the 
feudal superiors — to prevent this, I repeat, a general 
memorial survey with a view to readjustment took 
place in 1767 by command of Maria Theresa. 

" This very important settlement, which came to 
be known as the 'Urbarial Conscription/ laid 
down and defined the rights and services of the 
peasants, and the amount of land to be held by 
them. The nobles henceforth were obliged to find 
new tenants of the peasant class in the event of the 
' session-lands ' becoming vacant. Likewise their 
unjust impositions on the serfs were restricted, and 
the rights of the latter, in respect to wood-cutting 
and pasturage on the lord's lands, were established 
by law. 

" This was all very well as far as it went," said 
my friend ; " but the inequality of taxation and the 
forced labour were crying evils not to be endured in 
the nineteenth century. Our people who travelled 
in England and elsewhere came back imbued with 
new ideas. We in Transylvania assume the credit 
of taking the lead in liberal politics. Baron Wes- 
selenyi was one of the first to advise a radical 
reform, and others — Count Bethlen, Baron Kemeny, 
and Count Teleki — were all agreed as to the neces- 
sity of bringing about the manumission of the serfs. 


It .is an old story now. I am speaking of the 
third and fourth decades of the century, and political 
excitement was at white-heat. The extreme views 
of Wesselenyi raised a host of opponents among his 
own class, who regarded the prospect of reform as 
nothing short of class suicide. Everything else might 
go to the devil as long as they retained their pri- 
vileges ; the devil, however, is apt to make a clean 
sweep of the board when he has got the game in his 
own hands, but these noble wiseacres could not see 
that. In other parts of the country good men and 
true were working up the leaven of reform. The 
great patriot Szechenyi, as long ago as 1830, when 
he published his work on ' Credit/ had shown his 
countrymen their shortcomings. He had proved to 
them that their laws and their institutions were not 
marching with the spirit of the age ; that, in short, 
the i rights of humanity ' called for justice. What 
this truly great man did for the material improve- 
ment of his country could hardly be told between 
sunrise and sundown. You practical English 
were our teachers and our helpers in those days, 
when bridges had to be built, roads to be made, and 
steam navigation set up in our rivers. English 
horses were brought over to improve the breed 
in Hungary, and English agricultural machinery 
still turns out treasure-trove from our fields. But 


beyond all this, what we saw and admired in 
England's history was her constitutional struggles 
for liberty ; the efforts made by freedom within 
the pale of the law ; her capacity, in short, for self- 
reform. You see how it is, my dear sir, that every- 
thing English is so popular with us in Hungary.'' 

I bowed my acknowledgments, and begged my 
friend to proceed with his narrative of events. 

" Well, to go back to our own history," he con- 
tinued, in a tone which had in it a shade of 
melancholy, "you see from 1823 to the eve of 
1848 the Diet had been tinkering at reform in a 
half-hearted sort of way, but the Paris revolution 
let loose the whirlwind, and events were precipi- 
tated. I need not tell you there was a standing 
quarrel between us and the reactionary rulers in 
Vienna. It was the deceitful policy of Austria to 
bring about a temporary show of agreement between 
us. The Archduke Stephen was appointed Viceroy, 
assisted by a council composed entirely of Hun- 
garians. Now mark this turning-point in our 
: history. The first Act of this Diet, presided over 
I by Count Batthyanyi, was to abolish at one sweep 
the class privileges of the nobility. Roundly 
speaking, eight millions of serfs received their 
freedom by that Act ! Nor was this all, the im- 
portant part remains to be told — and I do not 


think foreigners always realise it — the Act fur- 
ther enforced that the session-lands held by the 
peasants became henceforth their freehold property. 
Half, or nearly half, the kingdom thus, by the 
voluntary concession of the nobles, became con- 
verted from a feudal tenure, burdened with duties, 
into an absolute freehold. 

" Like every sudden change, the result was not 
unmixed good. The Wallacks especially were not 
prepared for their emancipation ; they thought 
equality before the law meant equality of goods." 

I now inquired how the working of the land laws 
was carried out, and to this my friend replied : — 

"As a lawyer I can give you an exact state- 
ment in a few words. The disturbed state of 
the country after the war of independence, which 
followed immediately upon the emancipation of the 
serfs, prevented for a while the effective realisa- i 
tion of the great reform of '48. However, in 1853 
several imperial decrees were promulgated, by 
means of which the changed system was worked 
out in detail. ' Urbarial courts ' were instituted to 
inquire into the amount of compensation due to 
the lords of the manors who had lost the tithes 
and the ' forced labour' of the former serfs. To 
meet this compensation ' State urbarial bonds ' 
were created and apportioned ; they bear five per 


cent, interest, and are redeemable within eighty 
years, with two drawings annually. The fund for 
this compensation is raised by a special tax on 
every Hungarian subject ; not only the freed 
peasant pays towards the fund, but the lord him- 
self, and those who never had any feudal tenants. 

" The peasants had also to receive their compen- 
sation for the loss of pasturage and the right of 
cutting wood on the lord's demesne. In lieu of 
these privileges they received allotments of forest 
and pasturage as absolute property. The land thus 
acquired by the peasants is in fact parish property, 
or in other words, communal property. This is 
the only instance in which the parish appears as 
landowner, for all other peasant property, with the 
exception of the parish buildings, such as the school, 
is the property of the respective peasants. The 
parish authorities regulate the usage of the common 
pasturage and common forest. The sale or cutting 
down of the latter is subject to the permission of 
the county authorities." 

I now proceeded to question my friend about 
the laws respecting the transfer of land, and 
especially about the registration of titles of estate. 
To these inquiries he replied as follows : — 

" Land in Hungary is the absolute property of 
that person, or corporate body, who appears as 


owner in the registry. A limitation of claim to 
ownership does not exist with us ; indeed it is con- 
trary to the law. The Avitische Patent of 1854 
prescribed further that every one should be regarded 
as the rightful owner who actually held the pro- 
perty in 1848 — i.e., the status quo of 1848 to be 
accepted as the basis. The Urbarium of Maria 
Theresa was, in short, the stand-point in all these 
arrangements, whether it was the sessional lands 
of tenants formerly held in hereditary use, now 
freehold, or the allodium of the noble. Imme- 
diately succeeding the Avitische Patent, the regis- 
tration of land was made law, in. conformity with 
which all estates had been surveyed and entered 
on the registry as belonging to those owners who 
possessed the same in consequence of the above- 
named patent." 

" But how about disputed inheritance-lands held 
by mortgagees, and other contingencies always 
arising in regard to estates VI asked. 

" I am sorry to say that dreadful cases of in- 
justice were caused by this enactment. Whole 
families were reduced to beggary, and the greatest 
rascals obtained possession by this law of enormous 
estates, simply because they happened to hold the 
land in 1848, and the rightful owner did not 
advance his claim within the prescribed time. The 


evil could not be redressed, and in 1861, when 
the Hungarian Constitution was reinstated, the 
Diet of that year was obliged to accept and con- 
firm the Avitische Patent, and the registration 
of land as directly following it. The grievances 
are past, but the benefit remains to us and our 
children. In Hungary at the present time the 
transfer of land is as simple as buying or selling 
the registered shares of a railway company. The 
registry forms the basis of every transaction con- 
nected with landed property, and, as we lawyers 
say, what is not entered there non est in mundo. 
Mortgages must be set down against the registered 
title. Contracts of leases are also entered, and in 
the case of farms being taken, caution-money, 
amounting generally to a quarter's rent, must be 
deposited with the authorities/' 

" One more question. Are there no entailed 
estates amongst your aristocracy ? " 

" Very few, indeed, even among the richest aris- 
tocracy. An Act of entailment can, it is true, be 
founded, but it is rarely permitted, being looked 
upon with disfavour for reasons of political 
economy. Such an Act would require in any 
case the special permission of the sovereign and of 
Government; and then the estate is placed under 
a special court. Without special permission from 


this court neither an alteration of the Act can 
take place, nor is sale or mortgage allowed. Hun- 
garian law also interposes some restrictions in the 
case of a testator, w T ho must leave by will at least 
half his property to his children. And with regard 
to women, the law with us is specially careful to 
preserve a woman's legal existence after marriage." 


Fine scenery in Szeklerland — Csik Szent Marton — Absence of inns 
— The Szekler's love of lawsuits — Csik Szereda — Hospitality 
along the road — Wallack atrocities in 1848 — The Wallacks not 

The charming scenery of the Szeklerland, and the 
kindly hospitality of the people, induced me to 
linger on. I had many a ride through those 
glorious primeval forests, where the girth of the 
grand old oak-trees and their widespreading 
branches are in themselves a sight to see : the 
beech, too, are very fine. Climbing farther, the 
deciduous woods give place to sombre pine-trees — 
the greybeards of the mountain. A great charm in 
this part of the country, at least from a picturesque 
point of view, is the affluence of water. Every rocky 
glen has its gurgling rill, every ravine its stream, 
which, at an hour's notice almost, may become a 
mountain torrent, should a storm break over the 
watershed. A plague of waters is no unfrequent 
occurrence, as the farmer in the valley knows to his 
cost. Fields are laid under water, and the turbu- 


lent streams often bring down great masses of earth 
and rock in a way that becomes " monotonous" for 
the man who has to clear his land or his roads of 
the debris. Mr Judd remarks that the volcanic 
rocks of Hungary have " suffered enormously from 
denuding causes." Every fresh storm reminds one 
that the process is in active operation. 

After finally leaving Tusnad, I rode on to Csik 
Szent Marton, where, as there was no inn, I had to 
present myself at the best house in the place and 
crave their hospitality. My request was taken as 
a matter of course, and they received me with the 
greatest kindness ; in fact it was with great diffi- 
culty that I could get away the next day. My host 
entreated me to remain longer, and when he found 
that I was really bent on departing, he gave me 
several letters of introduction to friends of his along 
the road I was likely to travel. It was a very 
acceptable act of kindness, for there are hardly any 
inns in this part of the country. " If Transylvania 
is an odd corner of Europe," then is the Csik or 
Szeklerland a still more odd corner; by no possi- 
bility can it ever be the highroad to anywhere else. 
I am not surprised that my lawyer friend said that 
there were still some lawsuits pending in connec- 
tion with the allotments of forest and pasturage in 
this part of Hungary, though everything was defi- 



nitely settled elsewhere. The Szekler is as trouble- 
some and turbulent in some respects as his own 
mountain streams ; added to which he dearly loves 
a lawsuit : it is in the eyes of the peasant a patent 
of respectability, as keeping a gig formerly was 
in England. 

" Why do you go to law about such a trifle ?" 
observed a friend of mine to his neighbour. 

" Well, you see I have never had a lawsuit, as 
all my neighbours have had about something or 
another ; so, now there is the chance, I had better 
have one myself ! " 

It is well for the lawyers that there is "a good 
deal of human nature" everywhere, especially in 
Hungary, otherwise they would have a bad time 
of it, where the legal expenses of " transfer " are a 
few florins, whether it be for an acre of vineyard 
or for half a comitat. I must observe, however, 
that in the sale of lands or houses, Government 
intervenes with a heavy tax on the transaction. 

Leaving my hospitable entertainers at Csik 
Szent Marton, I went on to Csik Szereda, where I 
was kindly taken in by the postmaster. In this case 
I was provided with a letter ; but a stranger would 
naturally go to the postmaster or the clergyman 
to ask for a night's lodging. At first I felt diffi- 
dent on this score ; but I soon got over my shyness, 


for in Szeklerland they make a stranger so heartily 
welcome that he ceases to regard himself as an 
intruder. In out-of-the-way places one is looked 
upon as a sort of heaven-sent " special correspon- 
dent." There is a story told of Baron — ■ — , one of 
the nearly extinct old-fashioned people, who regu- 
larly, an hour or so before the dinner-hour, rides 
along the nearest highroad to try and catch a guest. 
It has even been whispered that on one occasion a 
couple of intelligent-looking travellers, who declined 
to be " retained " for dinner, were severely beaten 
for their recalcitrant behaviour, by order of the 
hospitable Baron. The story is well founded, and 
I daresay took place before '48, when anything might 
have happened. 

I can bear witness that I have never myself been 
ill-treated for declining Hungarian hospitality, but 
when in Saxonland something very much the reverse 
occurred to me. I once entered a village at the end 
of a long day's ride, and stopping at the first house, 
asked for a night's lodging, whereupon I was told 
to ask at the next house. They said they could not 
take me in, excusing themselves on the score of an 
important domestic event being expected. I went 
on a little farther, though the "shades of night were 
falling fast," and repeated my request at the next 
house. I give you my word, there were more 


domestic events — always the same excuse. I began 
to calculate that the population must be rapidly on 
the increase in that place. It was too much. I 
entered the last house of that straggling village with 
a stern resolve that not even new-born twins should 
bar my claim to hospitality ! 

I found the postmaster at Csik Szereda a very in- 
telligent man, with a fund of anecdotes and recollec- 
tions, which generally centred in the troubles of '48. 
As I mentioned before, the Szeklers rose en masse 
against the Austrians. One of their officers, Colonel 
Alexander Gal, proved himself a very distinguished 
leader. Corps after corps were organised and sent 
to aid General Bern. " It was a terrible time ; the 
men had to fight the enemy in the plain while our 
old men and women defended their homesteads 
against the jealous Saxons and the brutal Wallacks." 

It was not in one place, or from one person, but 
from every one with whom I spoke on the sub- 
ject, that I heard frightful stories of Wallack atro- 
cities. In one instance a noble family — in all, 
thirteen persons, including a new-born infant — were 
slaughtered under circumstances of horrible bar- 
barity within the walls of their castle. The name 
I think was Bardi ; it is matter of history. 

Amongst other horrors, the Wallacks on several 
occasions buried their victims alive, except the head, 


which they left above ground; they would then 
hurl stones at the unfortunate creatures, or cut off 
the heads with a scythe. It was not a war of 
classes but of race, for the poor peasants amongst 
the Magyars and Szeklers fared just as badly at the 
hands of the infuriated Wallacks as the nobles. 

The belief is still held that the Vienna Govern- 
ment instigated the outbreak. Certainly arms had 
been put into the hands of these uncivilised hordes 
under the pretence of organising a sort of militia. 
Metternich knew the character of these irregulars, 
as he had known and proved the character of the 
Slovacks in Galicia in the terrible rising of the serfs 
in 1846. His complicity on that occasion has never 
been disproved. 

The winter of 1848-49 must have been a time of 
unexampled misery to the Magyars of Transylvania. 
The nobles generally dared not remain in their lonely 
chateaux ; it was not a question of bravery, for how 
could the feeble members who remained home from 
the war guard the castle from the torches of a hun- 
dred frantic, yelling wretches, who, with arms in 
their hands, spared neither age nor sex ? For the 
time they were mad — these Eastern people are sub- 
ject to terrible epidemics of frenzy ! 

The Szekler town of Maros Vasarhely, which was 
strong enough to keep the Wallacks at bay, was the 

maros vaMrhely. 249 

sanctuary of the noble ladies and children of that 
part of Transylvania. It was so full of fugitives that 
the overcrowding was most distressing. A lady, the 
bearer of an historic name, told me herself that she 
and seven of her family passed the whole winter in 
one small room in Maros Vasa^rhely. Added to the 
discomfort and insalubrity of this crowding, they 
were almost penniless, having nothing but " Kossuth 
money." For the time the sources of their income 
were entirely arrested. In this instance one of the 
children died — succumbed to bad air and privation. 
Another patrician dame kept her family through the 
winter by selling the vegetables from her garden ; 
this together with seventeen florins in silver was all 
they had to depend upon. Add to this the misery 
of not hearing for weeks, perhaps even for months, 
from their husbands or sons, who were with the 
armies of Gorgey or Bern. 

The Magyars were not always safe in the 
towns, for at Nagy Enyed, a rather considerable 
place, the Wallacks succeeded in setting fire to it, 
and butchered all the inhabitants who were not 
fortunate enough to escape their fury. In the 
neighbourhood of Eeps the castles of the nobility 
suffered very severely. Grim incidents were told 
me, things that were too horrible not to be true — 
infants spiked and women tortured. One cannot 


dwell upon the details ! What struck me as 
very remarkable was the fact that Magyars and 
Wallacks are now dwelling together again in peace 
side by side. It reminds one of the people who 
plant their vines again on Vesuvius directly an 
eruption is over. In the last century, in 1784, 
there was a dreadful outbreak of the Wallacks. 
Individually they are really not bad fellows — so 
it seemed to me — and one hears of fewer murders 
among them than perhaps in Ireland. The danger 
exists of leaders arising who may stir up the 
nationality fever — the idea of the great Roumain 
nation that looms big in their imagination ! 

They love neither Croatians, Slavonians, nor 
Austrians, and they are no longer a safe card to 
play off against the Magyars ; but indeed I would 
fain believe that better and wiser counsels now 
prevail. Austria is not the Austria of ? 48, any 
more than the England of to-day is the same as 
England before the Eeform Bill. 

The autumn evenings were getting long, and after 
supper, as I sat smoking my pipe by the stove in 
the simple but scrupulously neat apartment of my 
host, he, in his turn, asked me about England. It 
is very touching the warmth with which these 
people in the far-off " land beyond the forest" speak 
of us. " We never can forget how kindly England 


received our patriots/' This, or words like it, were 
said to me many times, and always the name of 
Palmerston came to the fore. " He cordially 
hated the Austrians." What better ground of 
sympathy ? 


Ride to Szent Domokos — Difficulty about quarters — Interesting host 
— Jewish question in Hungary — Taxation — Financial matters. 

From Szerecla I went to Szent Domokos. It was ai 
long ride, and I was again nearly benighted. How-| 
ever, I reached my destination this time just as the! 
last streak of daylight had departed. 

I had some difficulty in making the people I met 
understand that I wanted the postmasters house. 
No one, it appeared, could speak a word of German. | 
At length I found the place ; but a new difficulty! 
arose. The postmaster, it seemed, was away, as far 
as I could make out from his wife. She seemed I 
greatly puzzled, not to say alarmed, at seeing am 
armed horseman ride up, who demanded hospitality;: 
and I daresay she was the more puzzled at not' 
being able "to place me," as the Yankees say, for 
she asked me if I was a Saxon, an Austrian, on 
a Turk ? My appearance, I suppose, was rather ■ 
uncouth and alarming. She was young and very 
pretty — an Armenian, I learned afterwards. These' 


women are apt to have Oriental notions about men, 
and she was evidently afraid to ask me in. 

There was I, with my tired horse, completely up 
a tree. I thought to myself, I cannot stay in the 
street, so pushing my way through a sort of court- 
yard, I found out what appeared to be the stable. 
This I took possession of, all the time making the 
most polite bows and gestures, for we hardly under- 
stood a word of each other's language. There was 
no help for it, I must make myself at home. I put 
the horse up, I relieved him of his saddle and 
saddle-bags, and seeing a bucket and a well not 
far off, I fetched some water. By this time the 
young woman had called in some neighbours, and 
I could see them watching me from behind the 
half-closed doors and windows. I must observe I 
had lighted my own lantern that I always carried 
with me, so that my proceedings were made quite 
visible to the cautious spectators. They never 
attempted to interfere with me, and I went on 
doing my work quietly and unostentatiously. The 
position was ludicrous in the highest degree ! 

While I was yet foraging for my horse's supper, 
by good-luck in came the postmaster. He spoke 
German, and I was soon able to make all square. 
He was as civil as possible, offering me at once the 
hospitality of his roof, which in fact I had already 


assumed. I saw he was very anxious to remove 
the unpleasant impression of his wife's mistake. 
He bade me welcome many times over, he thanked 
me for the honour I did him in offering to sleep 
under his humble roof, and further persisted in 
calling me " Herr Lord." It was in vain that I 
corrected him on this point. " I was an English- 
man, therefore I must be a * Herr Lord/ and there 
was an end of it." 

When Mr Boner was travelling in Szeklerland 
he was also, nolens volens, raised to the peerage, so 
I suppose it is a settled conviction of the people 
that we are all lords in Great Britain. 

We had for supper a capital filet (Hours from a 
bear that had been shot only two days before. 
I enjoyed my supper immensely ; the wine was as 
good as the food. My pretty hostess laughed a 
good deal over the false alarm my appearance had 
created. Her husband interpreted between us, but 
I promised to learn Hungarian before I paid them 
another visit. My host proved himself to be a 
very intelligent man ; I had an exceedingly inter- 
esting conversation with him after supper. He 
complained bitterly of the heavy pressure of tax- 
ation, saying that Government ought to manage 
things more economically, for that every year now 
there was a deficit. 


" Yet your country is rich in natural resources, 
as rich almost as France, barring her advantages of 

" Yes, we have wealth under the soil," he replied, 
" and what we want is capital to develop our 
resources. Herein Austria has stood in our way ; 
you know the old policy of Austria, as far back 
as Maria Theresa's time, which was to make 
Hungary Catholic, to make her poor, and to turn 
her people into Germans. This last they will never 
do ; but they have succeeded in their second 
project only too well. They have made us poor 
enough, they have discouraged manufactures and 
industries of every kind. We wish for free trade, 
but Austria is opposed to it. The manufactures 
of Bohemia must be nursed, and accordingly we 
are made to suffer. We want to be brought into 
contact with our customers in Western Europe ; we 
want, in fact, to get our trade out of the hands of 
the Jews." 

" I wish to ask you your candid opinion about 
the Jews. Some people say they are the curse of the 
country; others again, that Hungarian commerce 
would be nowhere without them." 

" I will tell you what happens," replied my friend, 
evading a direct answer to my latter observation. 
"A wretched Jew comes into this village, or some 


other place — it does not matter, it is always the 
same story. He comes probably from Galicia as 
poor as a rat, he settles himself in the village, and 
sells slivovitz on credit to the foolish peasant, who, 
besotted with drink and debt, gets into his meshes ; 
in the end, the Jew having sucked the blood of his 
victims, possesses himself of their little property, 
finds himself the object of universal hatred, and 
then he moves on. He makes a fresh start in 
some other place, beginning on a higher rung of 
the ladder ; and you will find him sitting in the 
highest seats before he has done." 

" If your people were less of spendthrifts and 
managed their affairs themselves, then the Jews 
would cease to find a harvest amongst you." 

" Yes, that is true," he answered; " but we are not 
practical; we do not organise well. The Jew always 
manages to be the middle-man between ourselves 
and the consumers." 

" But without the Jew you would perhaps not 
even get so near to the consumer," I observed 

My host puffed out a volume of smoke, and after 
a pause observed, before he placed his pipe again 
between his lips, " In this part of the country, in 
the Szeklerland, the better class of merchants are 
nearly all Armenians." 


Apropos of the tax question, I have looked into 
the matter since, and I am rather surprised to find 
the proportion not so heavy as I thought ; on the 
whole population it is about £1 a-head — certainly less 
than is borne by many other states. In England, 
I believe, we are taxed at over £2 a-head. Then, 
again, it is true that since 18%0 there has been an 
annual deficit, and the equilibrium of income and 
expenditure can hardly be counted upon just yet; 
still things are moving in the right direction. The 
Hungarians have been reproached for managing 
their finances badly since the compromise with 
Austria in 1867, when the revenue came exclusively 
under their own control. But in answer they say, 
that having so lately entered the community of 
states, they found themselves in the position of a 
minor who comes into house and lands that have 
need of every sort of radical repair and improve- 
ment. Hungary has had to spend heavily upon 
road-making, bridges, railroads, sanatory and other 
economic improvements, and very heavily for recti- 
fication of the course of the Danube ; in fact they 
have ambitiously set themselves too much to do in 
the time. They have rendered Buda-Pest, with its 
magnificent river embankments, one of the finest 
capitals in Europe. The Magyar does everything 
with a degree of splendour that savours of the 


Oriental. They know not the meaning of the homely 
adage which tells a man to " cut his coat according 
to his cloth." 

Added to the pressure of accumulated expenses, 
Hungary has had a succession of bad harvests — she 
has been passing through the seven lean years. The 
last season has shown, however, a decided improve- 
ment, so we may hope the bad corner is turned. 
I am informed that this year the schedule for un- 
paid — viz., arrears of — taxes is completely wiped 
off. Then, again, the income-tax in the space of 
five years ending 1874 increased from 5,684,000 
florins to 27,650,000 florins ! 

The financial account of the current year is re- 
assuring. At the sitting of the Hungarian Diet on 
the 30th October, 1 the minister, in presenting the 
estimates for 1878, said that in 1876 and 1877 the 
expenditure had been reduced by £1,250,000. It 
was not possible to continue at the same rate, and 
the net reduction next year would be £360,000. It 
is true the deficit of 1877 is £1,600,000, a suffi- 
ciently grave sum ; but to judge the position fairly 
it is necessary to look at the budgets of former 
years. In 1874, "in consequence of rather too 
hasty investment of money in railways and other 

1 ' Hungarian Finances,' the Times, October 31, 1877. 


public works," the deficit was £6,000,700 ; in 1876 
it had fallen to £3,100,000. The present year, 
therefore, shows a steady reduction of those ugly 
figures at the wrong side of the national account. 


Copper mine of Balanbanya — Miners in the wine-shop — Ride to 
St Miklos — Visit to an Armenian family — Capture of a robber 
— Cold ride to the baths of Borsek. 

Having expressed a wish to see the copper mine at 
Balanbanya, which is some five miles from Szent 
Domokos, my host proposed to drive me over the 
next morning. "When the morning came the weather 
looked most unpromising ; there was a steady down- 
pour, without any perceptible break in the clouds in 
any quarter. I had made up my mind to go, and 
as after the noonday meal it cleared slightly, we 
started. The mud was nearly up to the axletree of 
our cart. After driving some time we reached a 
wild and rather picturesque valley, in which rises 
the Alt, or, as it is called when it reaches Eoumania, 
the Aluta. The course of this stream is singularly 
tortuous, winding about through rocks and defiles, 
often changing its direction, and finally making a 
way for itself through the Carpathian range. 

As we approached the copper mine it had all 
the appearance of a volcano, for a heavy cloud of 


smoke hung over the spot like a canopy. This mine 
has been worked for many years ; formerly it paid 
well, but now it is in the hands of a company, who 
are working at a loss, if I could believe what I was 

I have repeatedly noticed in Hungary that people 
commit themselves to works of this kind without 
the technical knowledge necessary to carry them on 
successfully. The necessary capital, too, is gener- 
ally wanting to bring these mining operations to a 
successful issue ; added to this the managers are 
often not conspicuous for their honesty. 

I went over these works, and gave particular 
attention to the refinery. Some of the processes 
for collecting the metal are ingeniously simple 
and effective. The copper-ore is remarkably pure, 
being, it is said, free from arsenic and antimony. 
The concern ought to pay, for the copper is so 
well esteemed that it obtains the best price in the 

After inspecting the place, we went into the inn 
to have some supper, and while there, several miners 
came in. I had heard that they were renowned 
for their mining songs down in these parts, so I 
made friends with the men and begged them to 
sing. After a little persuasion and a refilling of 
glasses they began. 


The music of their songs was very mournful, 
and the words equally so, descriptive of the 
dangers the poor miner had to encounter in search- 
ing for ore in the gloomy depths of the earth. I 
believe my companion, the postmaster, was very 
puzzled to understand what could interest me in 
these rough miners. The scene was exceedingly 
picturesque ; for some six or eight of these stalwart 
fellows, with skin and clothes reddened by the 
earth, sat by a long table, each with his flask of 
wine before him, while the flicker of an oil-lamp 
threw its yellow light over the group. One of 
the men spoke German, and with him I talked. 
He had elicited from me the fact of my being an 
Englishman, whereupon he asked me a variety of 
questions about our mines and our forests. Finally 
he inquired whether our bears were as large as 
theirs. When I told him we had none he could 
not credit it, saying, "But you must have bears 
on the frontier?" When I explained that we lived 
upon an island he seemed much surprised. I saw 
that his natural politeness prevented his saying 
what was in his mind, but it was evident he 
thought that if the English lived in an island 
they could not be such a great people after all. 

Not wishing to put my host to expense, more 
especially as the expedition was undertaken solely 


for my benefit and at my suggestion, I paid the 
score at the Balanbanya Inn without saying any- 
thing. I was very vexed to find, however, that 
by doing so I had offended my companion very 
much. He reminded me that I was a stranger in 
Szeklerland and his guest, and it was contrary 
to all his ideas of hospitality that I should be 
the paymaster. Instead of starting homewards, 
as we were ready to do, he ordered more wine 
and some sardines, being the greatest delicacy the 
house afforded. I was obliged to make a show of 
partaking of something more, though I had amply 
supped. For these extras of course my friend paid, 
but he was only half appeased, and was never 
quite the same again. 

The following morning I left the house of my 
too-hospitable entertainers. My destination now 
was St Miklos. My road thither lay through a 
pine-forest, as lonely a tract as could well be 
imagined, for there were no signs whatever of 
human habitations. Certainly the weird solitude 
of a pine-wood is more impressive than any other 
kind of forest scenery. Under the impervious 
shade and the long grey vistas, one moves forward 
with something of a superstitious feeling, as though 
one were intruding into the sanctuary of unseen 
spirits. I cannot say that I was a prey to such 


idle fancies, for the spirits I was likely to meet 
would be very tangible enemies. This district had 
a bad reputation, owing to several robberies hav- 
ing been committed in the neighbourhood ; in fact 
the whole country was just then under martial 
law. I was well armed, and being alone I kept 
my weather-eye open ; but I saw not even the ghost 
of a brigand, and reached St Miklos in safety. 

It is usual when incendiary fires or robberies have 
been rife in any district to place that part of the 
country under the Statorium, so that if any per- 
son or persons are caught in flagrante delicto, they 
are summarily tried and hung before a week is over. 
When I was in Transylvania in the autumn of '75, 
the whole of the north-eastern corner was under 
the Statorium. 

At St Miklos I put up at the house of an 
Armenian, who received me with a most frank and 
kindly welcome, conducting me to the guest-cham- 
ber himself after giving orders to the servants to 
attend to my horse. St Miklos is charmingly situ- 
ated in the valley of Gyergyo, at an elevation of 
nearly 3000 feet above the sea-level. Here one is 
right in amongst the mountains, the higher sum- 
mits rising grandly around. The scenery is very 
fine. There are interminable forests on every side, 
broken by ravines and valleys, with strips of green 


pasture-land. In former times these primeval 
woods were tenanted by the wild aurochs, but now 
one sees only the long-horned white cattle and the 
wiry little horses belonging to the villages that 
nestle about in unexpected places. St Miklos is 
almost entirely inhabited by Armenians. There is a 
market here, and it is considered the central place 
of the district. The year before my visit the town 
was nearly destroyed by fire. Upwards of three 
hundred houses were burned down in less than three 
hours. The loss of property was considerable, in- 
cluding stores of hay and kukoricz (Indian corn). 
Since this conflagration, which caused such wide- 
spread distress in the place, they have established 
a volunteer fire brigade. This ought to exist in 
every village. Prompt action would often arrest the 
serious proportions of a fire. It would be a good 
thing if some substitute could be found for the 
wooden tiles used for roofing; in course of time 
they become like tinder, and a spark will fire the 
roof. The houses in Hungary are not, as a rule, 
constructed of wood, as in Upper Austria and 
Styria, nor are they nearly so picturesque as in that 
part of the world. In some Hungarian villages the 
cottages are painted partly blue and partly yellow, 
which has a very odd effect; and throughout the 
country they are built with the gable-end to the road. 


When I was at St Miklos there was great excite- 
ment over the recent capture of a famous robber 
chief, whose band had kept the country-side in a 
state of alarm for some months past. I was asked 
if I would like to go and see him, and of course I 
was glad to get a sight at last of one of the robbers 
of whom I had heard so much in my travels. I 
was never more surprised than, on arriving in front 
of a very shaky wooden building, to be told that 
this was the prison. A few resolute fellows might 
have easily broken in and effected the rescue of 
their chief. 

There was no romance about the appearance of the j 
miserable wretch that we found within, stretched on 
a rough bed with wrists and feet heavily ironed, j 
These manacles were hardly needed, for he wasi 
severely wounded, and seemed incapable of rising; 
from his pallet. I never saw so repulsive a coun-i 
tenance ; and the flatness of the head was quite 
remarkable. His eyes were very prominent, and' 
had the restless look of a hunted animal, which was, 
painful in the extreme; but there was absolutely noi 
redeeming expression of human feeling in the darl^ 
coarse face. Well, there was something human 
about him though. I was told he had been photo- 
graphed that morning, and that he had expressed 
considerable satisfaction at the idea of his portrait 

ltOBBERS. 2G7 

being preserved. He was under sentence of death ! 
There were various stories told of his capture, but I 
think the following is the true account. It appears 
that he and his gang made their appearance from time 
to time in the forest round the well-known watering- 
place of Borsek. When visitors were on their way 
to the baths, they were frequently stopped by the 
robbers in a mountain pass, in the immediate neigh- 
bourhood of a dense forest that stretches far away 
for miles and miles over the frontier. It was the 
custom of the robbers to demand all the money, and 
they would relieve the travellers of their fur cloaks 
and overcoats, and other useful articles ; but if they 
did not offer any resistance, they were permitted to 
go on uninjured, to take their cure at the baths. 
I should doubt, however, that anybody would be 
welcome there without a well-filled purse ; at least 
I judge so from what I heard of the eminently 
commercial character of the place. 

The robbers had the game in their own hands for 
a long while, but they made a mistake one fine 
day. They stopped a handsome equipage, which 
seemed to promise a good haul ; but lo, behold, it 
was the Obergespannirz, the lord-lieutenant of the 
county ! He had four good horses, and so saved 
himself by flight. But the authorities now really 
bestirred themselves, and the soldiers were called 


out to exterminate this troublesome brood. They 
were accompanied by a renowned bear-slayer who 
knew the forest well. It was with great difficulty 
that they succeeded at last in tracking the robbers, 
or rather robber, for it was only the chief who was 
trapped after all. It appears that the soldiers and 
their guide came upon a small hut surrounded by 
almost impenetrable thickets. The hunter crept on 
in advance of the rest, and looking into the interior 
through the chinks of timbers, he saw a man dry- 
ing his clothes by a small fire. He quietly said, 
" Good-day." The robber started up, and seizing 
his gun, flung open the door and fired his fowling- 
piece at once at his visitor. Fortunately the pow- 
der proved to be damp, or he must have received 
the full charge. The bear-slayer was now in close 
quarters, and fired off his revolver within a short 
distance of the other's head. The shot took effect, 
and he fell in a heap stunned and senseless. At 
first they thought he was dead, and it is marvellous 
that the well-aimed discharge did not kill him. 
His skull must have been uncommonly thick. This 
fellow was known to be the leader. The rest of the 
gang had probably escaped into Moldavia, from 
whence they came. 

My friends at St Miklos were kind enough to 
promise to get up a bear-hunt for me, and it was 


arranged that I should go and sec the baths of 
Borsek, and return on Saturday night, so as to be 
ready for the bear-hunt on Sunday. The " better 
observance of the Sabbath" is always associated 
with bear-hunting in these parts. 

I left St Miklos in a snowstorm, though it was 
only the 16th of September — very early for such 
signs of winter. I was not prepared for wintry 
weather. It frustrated my plans and expectations 
a good deal. I was disappointed, too, in the 
climate, for I had always heard that the late 
autumn is about the finest time for Transylvania. 

I have invariably remarked that whenever I go 
to a new country it is the signal for " abnormal 
meteorological disturbances," as they call bad 
weather in the newspapers. My own notion is 
that weather is a very mixed affair everywhere. 

For three mortal hours I rode on through a blind- 
ing snowstorm. At length I espied the ruin of 
an unfinished cottage by the wayside, and here I 
bethought me I would take shelter and see after 
my dinner ; for whatever happens, I can be hungry 
directly afterwards — I think an earthquake would 
give me an appetite. 

My unfurnished lodgings were in as wild a spot 
as imagination could picture. No wonder that the 
builder had abandoned the construction of this 


solitary dwelling ; why it had ever been com- 
menced passes my comprehension. It was just at 
the entrance of a mountain valley, treeless, stony, 
and rugged, through which there were at intervals 
the semblance of a track — a desolate, God-forgotten- 
looking place. On consulting the map I found that 
the " road" led to Moldavia. I resolved it should 
not lead me there. Here then, in this dreary spot, 
with its gable-end to the road, and turning away 
from the prospect — and no wonder — stood the 
carcass of a cottage. My horse and I scrambled 
over the breach in the wall, where a garden never 
had smiled, and got into the roofless house. It was 
with considerable difficulty that I found sticks 
enough for my kitchen fire. I had to try back on 
the route I had passed, for I remembered not far in 
the rear a group of firs standing sentinels in the 
pass. I always took care to have an end of rope 
in my pocket; with this I tied up my fagot, 
shouldered it, and returned to the house of enter- 
tainment. The result of my trouble was a blazing 
fire, whereat I cooked an excellent robber-steak. I 
made myself some tea, and afterwards enjoyed — yes, 
actually enjoyed — my pipe. There is a pleasure in 
battling with circumstances, even in such a small 
affair as getting one's dinner under difficulties. 
After washing-up (by good-luck there was a 


stream near by), I packed up my belongings, and 
(dving a last look around to see that I had left 
nothing, I departed without as much as a ponr- 
boire for " service," one of the advantages of self- 

The prospect for the rest of my ride was not 
lively, a good ten miles yet to be done on a bad 
road. It had ceased to snow, but the clouds kept 
driving down into the valley as if the very heavens 
themselves were in a state of mobilisation. It is 
curious to notice sometimes in the higher Carpathians 
how the clouds march continuously through the 
winding valleys ; always moving and driving on, 
these compact masses of vapour are impelled by the 
currents of air in the defiles which seam the moun- 

My way was now through an interminable pine- 
forest, the road stretching in a perfectly straight line 
and at a perceptible rise. Indeed it was uphill work 
altogether. The ceaseless dripping of the rain made 
the whole scene as cheerless as it well could be. The 
snow had turned to cold dull rain, which was far 
more depressing. I wished the mineral springs at 
Borsek had never been discovered. It was too late 
to turn back to St Miklos, where I devoutly wished 
myself, so I had nothing to do but plod on with my 
waterproof tight round me. It was impossible to go 


fast, for in places the mud was very deep and the 
road was beset with big stones. 

It was dark when I reached Borsek, and as;am 
I wished I had never come. The inn was very un- 
comfortable ; there was no fireplace in any of the 
rooms. The baths are only used in the height of 
summer, and if it turns cold, as it does sometimes at 
this elevation, people I suppose must freeze till it 
gets warm again. I had come a fortnight too late ; 
the world of fashion departs from Borsek at the end 
of August. Ten or twelve springs rise within a short 
area, and vary curiously in quality and temperature. 
The source which is principally used for exportation 
is remarkable for the quantity of carbonic acid it con- 
tains. About 12,000 bottles are filled everyday; 
some 1500 on an average break soon after corking, 
owing partly to the bad quality of the bottles. 
There is a glass manufactory in the place, and 
though they have good material they turn out the 
work badly. 

The export trade in the mineral waters is very ; 
large. They are much valued for long sea voyages, ] 
as the water keeps for years without losing its 
gaseous qualities. 1 

The baths of Borsek belong to two different 
parishes, and they are by no means agreed as to 

1 The waters of Borsek are much taken as an " after-cure." 

BORSEK. 273 

the management. Some years ago the principal 
spring was struck by lightning and entirely lost for 
a time, but after much digging it was found again. 
The situation of Borsek is extremely romantic, 
and in the height of summer it must be very 
delightful ; but in summer only — let no one follow 
my example and go there out of season. Of course 
the place is surrounded by magnificent forests, but 
it is a crying shame to see how they have been 
treated. In every direction there is evidence of 
the ravages of fire. You may see in a morning's 
walk the blackened stems of thousands of trees, the 
results of Wallack incendiarism. If the Wallacks 
go on destroying the forests in this way, they will end 
in injuring the value of the place as a health resort ; 
for the efficacy of the perfumed air of the pine-woods 
is well known, especially for all nervous diseases. 

The houses are badly built at Borsek, and the 
arrangements for comfort are very incomplete. Most 
of the habitations appear to have been run up with 
green wood ; the result may be pleasant and airy 
in summer, when the balmy breeze comes in from 
cracks in the doors and window-frames, but except 
in great heat, a perforated house is a mistake. 
People have to bring their own servants and other 
effects. I should say a portable stove would not be 
a bad item amongst the luggage. 


The Borsek waters are very much drunk through- 
out Hungary, especially mixed with wine. Every- 
where I noticed that eight people out of ten would 
take water with their wine at meals. In the district 
round there is splendid pasturage for cattle. Large 
numbers of cattle fed in these parts are now sent 
to Buda-Pest and Vienna. The serious drawback 
to Borsek is its great distance from a railway. The 
nearest station is Maros Vasarhely, which is nearly 
ninety miles away. The drive between the two 
places is very fine — that is, the scenery is fine, but 
the road itself is execrable. A telegraph wire con- 
nects Borsek with the outside world, but the* post 
only comes twice a-week. 


Moldavian frontier — Tolgyes — Excitement about robbers — Attempt 
at extortion — A ride over the mountains — Return to St 

Instead of going back to St Miklos by the same 
route, I resolved to diverge a little if the weather 
permitted. I wanted to visit Tolgyes, a village on 
the frontier of Moldavia, which is said to be very 
pretty. The weather decidedly improved, so I rode 
off in that direction. The road, owing to the late 
rains, was in a dreadful state. All the mountain 
summits were covered with fresh snow ; it was a 
lovely sight. The dazzling whiteness of these peaks 
rising above the zone of dark fir-trees was singularly 
striking and beautiful. The effect of sunshine was 
exhilarating in the highest degree, and the contrast 
with my recent experience gave it a keener relish. 

At Tolgyes there is a considerable trade with 
Moldavia in wood. Quite a fresh human interest 
was imparted to the scene by this industry. By 
the side of the stream small rafts were in course 


of construction, and the trunks of the trees were 
being placed in position to make the descent of 
the stream. The woodman's axe was heard in the 
forest, and many a picturesque hut or group of 
huts were to be seen by the roadside, where the 
woodmen and their families live, to be near their 
work. The labour of getting the timber along 
these tortuous mountain streams is very great. A 
ready market is found at Galatz, where a great 
deal of this wood is sent. 

I remained the night at Tolgyes. The whole 
place was in a state of excitement about brigands ; 
every one had some fresh rumour to help swell the 
general panic. A company of soldiers were kept 
constantly patrolling the roads in the neighbour- 
hood. I should say they were pretty safe not 
to encounter the robbers, who are always well 
informed under these circumstances. 

In studying my pocket-map, I found that there 
was clearly a short cut over the mountains to St 
Miklos. On inquiry I extracted the confirmation 
of the fact with difficulty, and I had still more 
difficulty in inducing anybody to go with me as a 
guide. At length I secured the services of a fellow 
who was willing to go for a tolerably substantial 
"consideration." I was afraid to work my way 
entirely by the map, for roads are apt to be vague 


in these parts. Ten chances to one whether you 
know a road when you see it ; it might be a green 
sward, or the rubbly dry bed of a mountain torrent, 
or a cattle-track ; it may lead somewhere or no- 
where. Unassisted you may wander all manner 
of ways. 

I made my start very early in the morning, for 
I had a long way to go, and my guide was on foot ; 
there was not much use in being mounted, con- 
sidering the pace that the roughness of the road 
forced us to take. Before leaving Tolgyes I had 
a row with the innkeeper. He made a most ex- 
orbitant demand upon me, at least three times 
over what was properly due. I told him at once 
that I declined to pay the full amount he asked. I 
knew perfectly well what the charge ought to be, 
and I said I should pay that and no more. Here- 
upon he got very angry, and informed me that he 
should not saddle my horse or let me go till I had 
paid him in full. I immediately went into the 
stable and saddled the horse myself; I then put 
down on the window-seat the money which I 
considered was due to him, giving a fair and 
liberal margin, but I was not going to be " done " 
because I was a foreigner. I ordered my guide 
to proceed, and I myself quick] y rode out of the 
place. The innkeeper worked himself up into a 


tremendous rage, and declared lie would have 
me back, or at least lie would have his cold 
meat and bread back that I had ordered for the 
journey. I gave my horse the rein, and left the 
fellow uttering his blessings both loud and deep. 

We had ten miles of as bad a road as any I had 
yet seen in my travels. The mud in some places 
was two feet deep. We followed the windings of a 
stream called the Putna Patak, and came presently 
to a wayside inn frequented by foresters. Here we 
made a short halt, got a bottle of decent wine and 
a crust of bread. Immediately on quitting this 
place we turned into a less frequented path, and 
began a stiffish ascent. It was a superb day, and 
I enjoyed it immensely, not having been much 
favoured by weather lately. Our route was through 
a thick forest, the trees, as usual in these, magnifi- 
cent, with their gigantic girth, and widespreading 
branches. At times I got a glimpse of the snowy 
mountain summits standing out against the in- 
tensely blue sky. 

At mid-day I told the guide to look out for the 
next spring, for there we would dine. We did not 
find a spring for some time, at least not by the way- 
side, and I was reluctant to lose time by wandering 
about. At length when we had secured a water- 
tap — viz., a little trickling rill flowing between some 


stones and spongy moss — we found ourselves in 
a difficulty about the fire. There was plenty of 
wood, but it was all soaking wet and would not 
burn. Luckily a fir-tree was spied out, which pro- 
vided us with a good quantity of turpentine, 
and with this we persuaded the fire to blaze up 
a bit. We cooked the dinner, had a smoke, a 
short rest, and then en avant — always through the 

Later in the afternoon, emerging from the wood, 
we came upon a grassy plateau which commanded 
a glorious view of the Transylvanian side of the 
Carpathians. I was glad to see the familiar valley 
of Gyergyo away westward, with its numerous 
villages and green pasturage. The same physical 
peculiarity pervades the whole of Hungary. When- 
ever you get a vale of any extent, it is as flat as if 
it were a bit of the great plain. Everywhere you 
have the impression that formerly the waters of a 
lake must have covered the level verdure of the 
valley. As soon as I caught sight of St Miklos I 
dismissed my guide, for his services were no longer 
required, and I could get on quicker without him. 
I had still a long distance to go, for I was not far 
below the summit. I was extremely anxious to get 
into safe quarters before dark, so I made the best 
of the way, leading my horse down the steep bits, 


and mounting again for a short trot where it was 

On arriving at the house of my Armenian friends 
at St Miklos, happily before sundown, I was greatly 
disappointed to find that there would be no bear- 
hunt the next day. Those detestable robbers had 
turned up again, and the people who were to have 
formed part of the sporting expedition were obliged 
to go robber-hunting, a sport not much to their 
taste I fancy. 

It appeared that the fellows had entered an out- 
of-the-way inn, or rather wine -shop, and boldly 
ordered the owner to procure for them a certain 
amount of gunpowder, which they required should 
be ready for them the next day, and failing to carry 
out their orders, they threatened to shoot him. He 
was obliged to promise, for there were five of them, 
and except women he was alone in the house. They 
drank a quantity of his wine, and asked for no 
reckoning, saying they would pay for it the next 
day along with the gunpowder. 

Directly they had left the premises, the innkeeper 
set off as fast as his legs could carry him to St 
Miklos to ask for help. The robbers seemed to be 
such bunglers that one would judge them to be new 
to the business ; but the innkeeper's terror knew no 
bounds, and he declared they were awful-looking 


cut-throats. Two of the men were caught the next 
day. I saw them brought into the village heavily 
manacled ; they were harmless-looking Wallacks, 
not very different in appearance from my guide over 
the mountain. Though armed with guns, they 
made no resistance ; and when they were discovered 
they had called out lustily to the soldiers not to 
fire, for they would give themselves up. I expect 
they were let off w T ith imprisonment, but I never 
heard the end of the story. I owed them a grudge 
for spoiling my bear-hunt, which I missed altogether, 
for I could not wait until the following Sunday. 

I left St Miklos with an introduction to some rich 
Armenians at Toplicza, where I intended making 
my next halt. 


Toplicza — Armenian hospitality — A bear-hunt — A ride over to the 
frontier of Bukovina — Destruction of timber — Maladministra- 
tion of State property — An unpleasant night on the mountain — j 

At Toplicza I was very hospitably received by the 
family to whom I took the letter of introduction 
from my friends at the last place. Unfortunately 
I could not converse with the elders of the family,' 
for they spoke no German, and my Hungarian was 
limited. However, there was a charming young lady 
with whom I found no difficulty in getting on ; she, 
understood not only the language but the literature 
of Germany. 

A bear-hunt was soon proposed in my honour. 
The headman of the village was brought into our 
council, and he quickly sent round orders that every h 
body was to appear the following day — which con- 
veniently happened to be a fete day — for a hunt. 
Those who had guns would be placed at different 
" stands," and those who had no guns were expected 
to act as beaters. 


The Richter, or headman, was a fine specimen 
of a Wallack ; he was six feet three, broad chested, 
with flowing black hair — a handsome fellow of that 
type. I told him I should not like to fight him if he 
knew how to use his fists. He was pleased at the 
little compliment. The next day the Wallacks came 
pouring in from all the outlying parts of the village. 
It was really a very picturesque sight. The men 
wore thongs of leather round their feet in place of 
boots ; and those who had no guns were armed with 
the usual long staff surmounted by the formidable 

A great deal of time was wasted in preparations. 
The Wallacks are the most dilatory people in the 
whole world. It was nearly three o'clock before we 
got to the forests where we hoped to give Bruin 
a rendezvous. The guns that some of the party 
carried were " a caution " — more fit for a museum of 
armoury than for anything else. The Wallacks try 
to remedy the inefficiency of their guns by cramming 
in very large charges of powder, at least two bullets, 
and some buckshot besides. I often thought the 
danger was greater to themselves than to the bear. 
They never fire over twenty-five yards, and in fact 
generally allow the bear to come within twelve yards, 
when they pepper away at him. 

At last we were in position. It is usual to have 


a second gun, but I had only my rifle and revolver ; 
unfortunately my gun was with my baggage at 
Maros Vasarhely. After waiting for some time 
without hearing anything but the creaking of the 
pine-trees in the wind, the advance of the beaters 
was at length audible. You hear repeated thuds 
with their axes on the trees, and you know that they 
are beating up your way. All at once I heard the 
unmistakable tread of some heavy four-footed beast. 
I held my breath, fearing to betray my presence. 
Nearer and nearer came the heavy tread, the I 
branches cracking as the animal broke its way I 
through the thicket. It must be a bear of the: 
largest size, thought I, with a glow of delight warm- 1 
ing up my whole frame at this supreme moment. 
I had just raised the rifle to my shoulder, when — 
judge my disgust — when emerging from the thicket: 
I saw a stray ox make his appearance ! I could 
hardly resist putting a bullet into the stupid brute's 
carcass, but I remembered that I should have to 
pay for that little game. 

We moved on to another part of the forest, andj 
the same programme of taking our positions and 
arranging the course of the beaters was gone; 
through ; but we met with no success. This wasj 
the more provoking, because on our return we found j 
the fresh slot of a bear. He had evidently just 


saved himself in time; the marks of his claws were 
quite visible in the soft mud. 

These footprints were all we were destined to see, 
for evening was drawing on, and it was impossible 
to pursue the sport any farther. Of course we 
commenced operations far too late in the day; it 
was simply ridiculous to begin at such a late hour 
in the autumn afternoon. It was very disappoint- 
ing; but there is so much of mere chance in bear- 
hunting, that where one man has the luck to kill 
four or five in a season, another may go on for two 
years following without getting as much as a shot. 

The sportsman will be glad to hear, though the 
farmer is of quite another mind, that bears, wolves, 
and wild-boar are increasing very much in the 
Carpathians generally. I have mentioned this fact 
before, but I allude to it again because it was 
everywhere corroborated. On all sides this increase 
is attributed to the tax on firearms, which deters 
the peasants from keeping them down. They are 
often too poor to pay for a shooting licence and the 

Toplicza has some w T arm mineral springs. "Warm 
water seems to be turned on everywhere in Hun- 
gary. One of these springs is situated close to the 
river, where a simple kind of bath-house has been 
constructed. The water contains iodine. While at 


Toplicza I heard that somewhere up in the moun- 
tains on the Bukovina side there is a large deposit 
of sulphur. The accounts were very vague, but 1 
thought I should like to have a look at the place. 
The district was pronounced to be so unsafe, and so 
many robbers had appeared on the scene lately, that 
I thought proper to take two men with me; one as 
a guide, for he had been there before, and a forester 
armed with a gun. 

My friends the Armenians kindly insisted on 
providing me with everything necessary in the 
shape of food ; and one day, the weather being fine, 
I started at noon on this expedition along with 
my attendants. We soon got into the forest again. 
The size of the trees was almost beyond belief; 
but, alas ! many of them had been destroyed in the 
same ruthless manner that I have so often alluded 
to in my travels. Here were half-burned trunks of 
splendid oak-trees lying rotting on the ground ini 
every direction, showing clearly that the forest had! 
been fired. The attempt at a clearing, if that was I 
the object, was utterly abortive ; for when the trees i 
are down a thick undercover grows up, more 
impervious by far, and there is less chance of 
obtaining pasturage than ever, but the Wallack 
never reasons upon this. The State reckons! 
the value of its " forests " at somethiog like j 


27,000,000 florins, and yet there is no efficient 
supervision of this property, which, from the in- 
creasing scarcity of wood in Europe, must become 
in time more and more valuable. The mines 
of Hungary are estimated in round numbers at 
210,000,000 florins, and here again there is a 
lamentable absence of wise administration. The 
mining laws, I understand, are at present under 
revision. Foreign enterprise is not discouraged, 
but I cannot go so far as to say that the adven- 
ture would not meet with difficulties from local 
obstructions of an official or semi-official nature. 

We had started from Toplicza in beautiful weather, 
but before sunset a complete change came on, and 
heavy rain set in. This was a very uncomfortable 
look-out, for we could see nothing that offered us 
anything like a decent shelter for the night. The 
guide urged us to go on, for he said there was a 
hut at the top of the mountain ; so we beat our way 
along through the driving rain, and eventually came 
to the top. We soon found the hut, but it was a 
mere ruin ; it might have been in Chancery for any 
number of years, indeed one end had tumbled in. 
It was as uninviting a place to spend a night in 
as could well be imagined. Fortunately one corner 
was still weather-proof, the fir bark of the roof yet 
remaining intact. W T e had to be careful, however, 


about the roof, which consisted of stems of trees j 
supported longitudinally. It was easy to see that i 
a very little incautious vivacity on our part would 
bring the whole structure down on our heads. 
Water was found not far off, and we soon had a 
fire, which blazed up cheerfully. Its warmth was i 
very necessary, for it was bitterly cold and damp. 
I had brought with me a hammock made of twine ; ! 
this I slung in the driest corner, and after supper I 
turned in and was soon asleep. The faculty of sleep 
is an immense comfort. A man may put it high up 
on the credit side in striking the balance of good ! 
and evil in his lot. 

When I awoke the next morning, I found that i 
the weather was worse than ever. The mist was so 
dense that the Wallack guide said it was perfectly 
impossible to go on, in fact we might consider our- 
selves lucky if we were able to get back without 
mischance. Not to be daunted, I waited till nearly 
noon, thinking it was possible that the mist might 
rise, and restore to us the bright skies of yesterday. 
A change came, but not the one we hoped for. The 
cold rain turned into snow, so it would have been 
sheer madness to think of going on. 

We were in a wretched plight, crowded together 
in the corner of the ruined hut, and snow as well as 
" light " came in " through the chinks that time had 


made." Owing to a change in the wind, the smoke 
of the fire outside drifted in ; and there was evi- 
dence of a worse drift — that of the snow, which 
before nightfall I daresay may have buried the 
cottage out of sight. 

I now gave orders for returning, and just as I 
stepped out of the hut, or was in the act of leaving, 
one of the heavy beams from the roof fell upon me ; 
it caught me on the back of my head — a pretty 
close shave ! The ride back, with the consciousness 
of having failed to attain the object I had in view, 
was depressing. Nothing could be more unlovely 
than these once glorious forests. In parts we had 
to pass through a mere morass, into which my horse 
kept sinking. 

At last we got back to Toplicza. The forester 
and the Wallack thought themselves amply compen- 
sated by a few paper florins. I daresay they kept 
off the rheumatism by extra potations of slivovitz. 
As for myself, having been dipped, yea, having even 
undergone total immersion in the morass, I felt like 
those extinct animals who have left their interesting 
bones nice and dry in the blue lias, but who in daily 
life must have been " mud all over." I presented 
such a spectacle on my return, that I consider it was 
an instance of the greatest kindness — indeed it must 


have been a severe strain on the hospitality of my 
friends to give me house-room. 

As my garments had not the durability of those 
of the Israelites in the wilderness, it became a very 
desirable object to effect a junction with my port- 
manteau, which was sitting all this time at Maros 
Vasarhely. The weather, too, had calmed my 
ardour for the mountains, and I resolved to strike 
into the interior of Transylvania, and see something 
of the towns. 


Visits at Tran sylvanian chateaux — Society — Dogs — Amusements 
at Klausenburg — Magyar poets — Count Istvan Szechenyi — 
Baron Eotvos — ' The Village Notary ' — Hungarian self-criticism 
— Literary taste. 

I must now drop the itinerary of my journey and 

speak more in generalities ; for after leaving the 

wilder districts of the Szeklerland, I took the 

opportunity of presenting some of the letters of 

introduction that I brought with me from England. 

For the succeeding six weeks or more I spent my 

; time most agreeably in the chateaux of some of the 

I well-known Transylvanian nobles. For the time my 

wild rovings were over. The bivouac in the glorious 

forest and robber-steak cooked by the camp fire — 

the pleasures of " roughing it" — were exchanged for 

the charms of society. 

And society is very charming in Transylvania. 
Nearly all the ladies speak English well, and are 
extremely well read in our literature. To speak 
French is a matter of course everywhere ; but 


they infinitely prefer our literature, and speak our! 
language always in preference when they can. 

The works of such men as Darwin, Lyell, andj 
Tyndall are read. I remember seeing these, and 
many other leading authors, in a bookseller's shop in 
Klausenburg. It is true this last-named place is the 
capital — viz., the Magyar capital — of Transylvania,; 
but in most respects it is a mere provincial town. 

A friend and myself happened to be lunching onei 
day in the principal inn — it was in the salle q 
manger — and we were talking together in English.; 
Presently I noticed a remarkably little man at the 
next table, who looked towards us several times 
finally he got up from his chair, or rather I should; 
say got down, and making a sign to us equivalent 1 
to touching his hat, he said, " Gentlemen, I am an 
Englishman; I thought it right to tell you in cast 
you should think there was no one present whc 
understood what you were talking ! " It was veiy 
civil of the little fellow, for we were talking rathei 
unguardedly about some well-known personages. I 
then asked him how he came to be in this part o1 
the world, and he told me he was a jockey, and had 
been over several times to ride at the Klausenburg 
races; but he added he was very sorry that they 
always took place on a Sunday ! There is certainly 
no " hitter observance of the Sabbath" in Hungary 


generally. Offices are open, and business is con- 
ducted as usual — certainly in the morning. 

There is some good coursing in the neighbourhood 
of Klausenburg, which is kept up closely on the 
pattern of English sport. I had two or three good 
runs with the harriers, and on one occasion got a 
spill that was a close shave of breaking my neck. 

Count T had given me a mount. The horse was 

all right, but not knowing the nature of the country, 

I was not aware that the ground drops suddenly in 

many places. Coming to something of this kind 

without preparation, the horse threw me, and I was 

pitched down an embankment upwards of twelve 

feet in depth. Several people who saw the mishap 

thought it was all up with me, but, curiously enough, 

I was absolutely unhurt. A pull at my flask set 

me all right, and I walked back the five miles to 

I Klausenburg. The horse unfortunately galloped 

! away, and was not brought back till the next 

, day, and then minus his saddle ; however, it was 

j recovered subsequently. 

In the present scare about hydrophobia the fol- 
lowing is worth notice. One day when walking in 
the principal street of Klausenburg I heard a great 
barking amongst the dogs, of which there were some 
dozen following a closed van. On inquiry I found 
that once a-week the authorities send round to see 


if there are any dogs at large without the regulation 
tax-collar. If any such vagabonds are found they 
are consigned to the covered cart, and are forthwith I 
shot. This excellent arrangement has the effect of! 
keeping down the number of dogs ; besides, there is 
the safeguard attendant upon the responsibility of 1 
ownership. The funny part of the matter is that [ 
the tax-paying dogs are not the least alarmed at the 
appearance of the whipper-in, but join with great 
show of public spirit in denouncing the collarlessj 

Klausenburg has not the picturesque situation of I 
Kronstadt, but it is a pleasant clean-looking town,; 
with wide streets diverging from the Platz, where! 
stands the Cathedral, completed by Matthias! 
Corvinus, son of Hunyadi. This famous king, 
always called " the Just," was born at Klausenburg 
in 1443. 

As Herrmannstadt and Kronstadt are chiefly 
inhabited by Saxon immigrants, and Marosj 
Vasarhely is the central place of the Szeklers, so 
may Klausenburg, or rather Kolozsvar, as it is 
rightly named, be considered the Magyar capital of 

The gaieties of the winter season had not com- 
menced when I was there, but I understand the 
world amuses itself immensely. The nobles come; 


in from their remote chateaux to their houses, or 
apartments, as it may be, in town, and then the 
ball is set going. 

There is a good theatre in Klausenburg. I found 
the acting decidedly above the average of the 
provincial stage generally. I saw a piece of 
Moliere's given, and though I could only under- 
stand the Hungarian very imperfectly, I was 
enabled to follow it well enough to judge of the 

Shakespeare is so great a favourite with the 
Hungarians that his plays are certainly more often 
represented on the stage at Buda-Pest than in 
London. The Hungarian translation of our great 
poet, as I observed before, is most excellent. 

It was a band of patriotic poets who first 
employed the language of the Magyars in their 
compositions. Hitherto all literary utterance had 
been confined to Latin, or to the foreign tongues 
spoken at courts. The rash attempt of Joseph II. to 
denationalise the Magyar and to Germanise Hungary 
by imperial edicts had a violent reactionary result. 
The strongest and the most enduring expression is 
to be found in the popular literature which was 
inaugurated by such men as Csokonai and the 
two brothers Kisfaludy, who were all three born in 
the last century. The songs of Csokonai have 


retained their hold on the people's hearts because, 
and here is the keynote — " because they breathe 
the true Hungarian feeling." The insistent themes 
of the Magyar poets were the love of country, the 
joys of home, the duty of patriotism. Such was 
the soul-stirring 'Appeal' ('Szozat') of Varosmazty, 
the chief of all the tuneful brethren, the Schiller 
of Hungary. Born with the niDeteenth century, 
and at once its child and its teacher, he died in 
1855 — too soon, alas ! to see the benefits accruing 
to his beloved country from the wise reconciliatory 
policy of his dear friend Deak. His funeral was 
attended by more than 20,000 people, and the 
country provided for his family. 

Whenever the poets of Hungary are mentioned 
the name of Petoefy will occur, and he was second 
to none in originality of thought and poetic utter- 
ance. An intense love of his native scenery, not 
excepting even the dreary boundless Alfold, afforded 
inspiration for his genius. His poetic temperament 
and pathetic story give him a certain likeness to 
the brave young Korner, dear to every German 
heart. Petoefy was engaged in editing a Hun- 
garian translation of Shakespeare when he was 
interrupted by the political events of 1848. His 
pen and sword were alike devoted to the cause of 
patriotism, and entering the army under General 


Bern, he became his adjutant and secretary. Dur- 
ing the memorable winter campaign in Transyl- 
vania he wrote proclamations and warlike songs. 
We all know the story of the Kussian invasion of 
Transylvania at Austria's appeal, and how the brave 
Hungarians fought and fell at the battle of Schass- 
burg. This engagement took place on the 31st of 
July '49. Petoefy was present, and indeed had 
been seen in the thick of the fight; but in the 
evening he was missing from the roll-call, and, 
strange to say, his remains, though searched for, 
were never identified. The mystery which hung 
over his fate caused many romantic stories to be 
circulated, and not a few claimants to his name 
and fame have arisen. Even within the last three 
months a report has reached his native village that 
he had been seen in the mines of Siberia, where 
he has been kept a prisoner all these years by the 
Russians ! 

The language of the Magyars was heard not in 
poetry alone, but in the sternest prose. " Hungary 
is not, but Hungary shall be/' said Count Szechenyi. 
The men who worked out this problem were poli- 
ticians, writers, and orators. Foremost among them 
may be reckoned Baron Eotvos, one of the most 
liberal-minded and enlightened thinkers of the day. 
His efforts were specially directed to improving the 


education of all classes of the community. With 
this end and aim he worked unceasingly. He held 
the post of Minister of Cultus and Education in 
the first independent Hungarian Ministry in 1848, 
but withdrew in consequence of political differences 
with his colleagues. Again in 1867 he held the 
same porte-feuille under Count Andrassy, but died 
in 1870 universally regretted. His best known 
literary productions are two novels, ' The Car- 
thusian ' and ' The Village Notary/ The latter 
highly-interesting, indeed dramatic story, may be 
recommended to any one who desires to know 
what really were the sufferings entailed upon the 
peasantry under the old system of forced labour. 
It is one of those fictions which, as old Walter 
Savage Landor used to say, " are more true than 
fact." It was the ' Uncle Tom's Cabin ' of that 
day, and of the cause he had at heart — the abolition 
of serfdom. In reading this most thrilling story, 
one can understand the evil times that gave birth 
to the terrible saying of the peasant, " that a lord 
is a lord, even in hell." 

Yet it was the nobles themselves who abolished 
at one sweep all the privileges of their order. It 
was by their unanimous consent that the manu- 
mission of nearly eight millions of serfs was 
granted, at the same time converting the feudal 


holdings of some 500,000 families into absolute 

In Hungary it would appear that public opinion 
is generously receptive of new impulses, and in this 
particular the Hungarians resemble us, as they 
claim to do in many things, calling themselves 
" the English of the East." 

" It is curious," said Baroness B to me one 

day, " that with all our respect for British institu- 
tions, and everything that is English, that we fail 
to copy their straight good sense. We have too 
many talkers, too few workers. We are not yet a 
money -making nation ; we have no idea of serious 
work, and our spirit for business is not yet 
developed. Almost all industrial or commercial 
enterprises are in the hands of Jews, Armenians, 
Greeks, who are great scoundrels generally." 

" The Armenians are instinctive traders," I 

"Yes, true; just as we are the very reverse. 
But this change has come over us. Taking again 
our cue from England, we see that trade can be 
respectable, and those who follow it are respected 
— with you at least. We try to Englishify our- 
selves, and some of the younger members of the 
community make a funny hash of it. For instance, 
a rich young country swell in our neighbourhood 


went over to England and came back in raptures 
with everything, and tried to turn everything up- 
side down at home without accommodating his new 
ideas to the circumstances that were firmly rooted 
here. You may see him now sit down to dinner 
with an English dresscoat over his red Hungarian 
waistcoat. His freaks went far beyond this, and he 
came to be known as the ' savage Englishman/ ,: 

I asked my hostess if our English novels were 
much read. 

" Everybody likes your English fiction," replied 

Baroness B . "It is immensely read, and has 

helped to promote the knowledge of the language 
more perhaps than anything else. We, too, have our 
writers of fiction. Jokai is the most prolific, but he 
has got to be too much an imitator of the French 
school. One of his earlier novels, ' The New Land- 
lord/ has been translated into English, and gives 
a good picture of Hungarian life in the transition 
state of things. For elegance of style he is not to 
be compared to Gzulai Paul and Baron Eotvos." 

" There seems to be a growing interest in natural 
history and literature," I remarked, "judging from 
the enormous increase of newspapers and journals 
which pass through the post, both foreign and local." 

" With regard to local journals/' replied the 
Baroness, "we have the l Osszehasonlito irodalom- 


tortenelmi Lapok ' ('Comparative Literary Journal'), 
which is published at Klausenburg, at Herrmann- 
stadt, and at Kesmark in Upper Hungary. There 
are Natural History Societies, who publish their 
reports annually. Added to this, there are few 
towns of any size that have not their public 
libraries. I speak specially of Transylvania, where 
we affect a higher degree of culture than in Hun- 
gary Proper." 

Baroness B was very anxious to impress 

upon me that certainly in Transylvania the ladies 
of good society do not affect "fast" manners or 
style. " Very few amongst us," she said, "adopt 
the nasty habit of smoking cigarettes. I am very 
sorry that Countess A has attempted to in- 
troduce this fashion from Pest." 

Buda-Pest, though the capital, is not the place 
to find the best Hungarian society. Many of the 
old families prefer Pressburg ; and Klausenburg is 
to Transylvania what Edinburgh was to Scotland, 
socially speaking, before the days of railroads. In 
the season good society may be met with at the 
various baths, but every year the facilities of travel 
enable people to go farther a-field health-seeking 
and for pleasure. 


A visit at Schloss B National characteristics — Robber stories — 

Origin of the " poor lads " — Audacity of the robbers — Anecdote 
of Deak and the housebreaker— Romantic story of a robber 

The three weeks I remained at Schloss B were 

amongst the most agreeable days I spent in Tran- 
sylvania. There were a great many visitors coming 
and going, affording me an excellent opportunity 
of seeing the society of that part of Hungary. 
With regard to the younger generation, the Tran- 
sylvanians are like well-bred people all the world 
over. The ladies have something of the frankness 
of superior Americans — the sort of Americans that 
Lord Lytton describes in ' The Parisians ' — and 
in consequence conversation has more vivacity 
than with us. 

In the elder generation you may detect far more 
of national peculiarity ; in some cases they retain 
the national dress, and with it the Magyar pride 
and ostentation, so strongly dashed with Orientalism. 


Then again, in the houses of the old nobility, one 
is struck by many curious incongruities. For 

example, Count T has a large retinue of 

servants — five cooks are hardly able at times to 
supply his hospitable board, so numerous are 
the guests — yet the walls of his rooms are simply 
whitewashed, and the furniture is a mixture of 
costly articles from Vienna and the handiwork 
of the village carpenter. A whole array of ser- 
vants, who are in gorgeous liveries at dinner, 
may be seen barefooted in the morning. 

In talking with some of the elderly members of 
the family, I heard many curious anecdotes of old 
Hungarian customs ; but " the old order changeth" 
here as elsewhere, and a monotonous uniformity 
threatens the social world. Even as it is, every- 
body who entertains his friends at dinner is much 
the same as everybody else, be he in Monmouth 
or Macedon. Distinctive characteristics of race 
are found more easily in the common people, who 
are less amenable to the change of fashion than 

their superiors. Baroness B had a complete 

repertory of robber stories, some of which are so 
characteristic that I will repeat them here. 

I have before alluded to the peculiarity which 
existed in the old system preserving to the peasant 
his personal freedom, though the land was burdened 


with duties. It was not till 1838 that the Austrians 
introduced the conscription, and subsequently they 
carried out the law with a brutality that made the 
innovation thoroughly detested by the peasantry. 
Accustomed to their tradition of personal freedom, 
the forced military service in itself was regarded 
with intense dislike. The richer classes were 
enabled to pay a certain sum of money for ex- 
emption, but the poor were helpless ; they were 
dragged from their houses and sent to distant 
parts of the empire, to serve for a long period of 
years. As cases had not unfrequently occurred of 
the recruits running aw T ay, they were subjected to 
the ignominy of being chained together in gangs; 
and as if this was not enough, many superfluous 
brutalities were inflicted by the Austrian officials. 

To escape from this hated service, many a young 
man fled from his home in anticipation of the next 
levy of the conscription, and hid himself in the 
shepherds' tanya in the plain. These remote 
dwellings in the distant puszta were no bad 
hiding - places, and the fugitives were freely 
harboured by the shepherds, who shared the 
animosity of the "poor lads" against the Austrian 
conscription. In course of time these outlaws found 
honest work difficult to procure ; they became, in 
short, vagabonds on the face of the earth, and ended 


by forming themselves into robber bands. They 
had also their class grievance against the rich, who 
had been enabled to buy themselves off from serving 
in the army. The numbers of the original fugitives 
were soon increased by evil-doers from all sides — 
ruffians who had a natural bent for rapine — and 
a plague of robbers was the result, threatening all 
parts of Hungary. The mischief grew to such 
serious proportions, and it transpired that the 
robbers had everywhere accomplices in the towns 
and villages. Persons of apparently respectable 
position were suspected of favouring them ; they 
were called " poor lads," and a glamour of patriot- 
ism was fluno; over the fugitives from Austrian 

During the war of independence these robber 
bands rallied round their elected chief, Shandor 
Bozsa, and actually offered their services to the 
Hungarian Government, as they desired to take 
part in the great national struggle. The Pro- 
visional Government accepted their services, and 
they came pouring in from every part of the 
country. At first they behaved very well, and 
in fact many of these "irregulars" distinguished 
themselves by acts of great valour. In the end 
it was the old story ; they soon showed a degree 

of insubordination that rendered them worse than 




useless to the regular army. By the time the 
struggle for independence had found its melancholy 
ending at Villagos, these fellows were again at their 
old tricks of horse-stealing and cattle -lifting, and 
they went so far as to waylay even the honved, 
the national Hungarian militia. The well-disposed 
part of the community was powerless to resist the 
robbers, for after the disastrous events of 1849 the 
Austrian Government prohibited the possession of 
firearms, even for huntiDg purposes, so that villages 
and towns, one might almost say, were at the mercy 
of a band of well-armed robbers. The Government 
were so busy hunting down political conspirators, 
and hanging, shooting, and imprisoning patriots, 
that they were indifferent to the increase of 
brigandage. The statistics of the political perse- 
cutions which Hungary suffered at the hands of 
Austria during the ten years that followed Villagos 
were significant. Upwards of two thousand persons 
were sentenced to death, nearly ten times that 
number were thrown into prison, and almost five 
thousand Hungarian patriots were driven into exile 
— amongst the number Deak, the yet-to-be saviour 
of his country. 

But to return to the robbers. They had spread 
themselves over the whole land ; from the forests of 
Bakony to Transylvania, from the Carpathians to 


the Danube, no place was free from these desperate 
marauders. They committed incredible deeds of 
boldness. On one occasion seven or eight robbers 
attacked a caravan of thirty waggons in the neigh- 
bourhood of Szegedin, the cavalcade being on its 
way to the fair in that town. The traders were 
without a single firearm amongst them, so that 
the fully - armed brigands effected their purpose, 
though it was broad daylight. Another time they 
entered a market town in Transylvania and coolly 
demanded that the broken wheel of their waggon 
should be mended, threatening to shoot down any- 
body who offered the slightest opposition. The 
post was frequently stopped, but it came to be 
remarked, that though the passengers were gener- 
ally killed, the drivers escaped. This, together 
with the fact that the post was always stopped 
when there were large sums of money in course 
of transit, led the authorities to suspect that their 
employes were in collusion with the robbers, and 
subsequent events proved this to be the case. 

When the hostility of Austria had somewhat 
cooled down, the dangerous up-growth of these 
robber bands attracted the serious attention of the 
Government, and not only gendarmerie but military 
force were employed against them. The officials to 
a man were Germans and Bohemians, indifferently 


honest, and hated by the peasantry, who, after all, 
preferred a Hungarian robber to an Austrian 
official. The consequence was that they were not 
by any means very ready to depose against the 
"poor lads," and the Government found themselves 
unequal to cope with the difficulty, so things went 
from bad to worse. 

In 1867, when at last the reconciliation policy 
of Deak had effected a substantial peace with 
Austria, the Hungarian Constitution being re- 
established, and the towns and comitats (counties) 
having got back their prerogatives and self-govern- 
ment, the intolerable evil of brigandage was at 
once brought before the attention of the Parlia- 
ment assembled at Buda-Pest. There were a great 
many speeches made upon the subject, and Count 
Forgacs with a considerable military force was 
despatched to Zala and the adjoining country 
against the robbers. He simply drove them out 
of one part of the country to carry on their 
devastations in another, and dreadful robberies 
and murders were reported from Szegedin. On 
several occasions the post was stopped, and the 
passengers were invariably killed. They even 
stopped the railway train one day at Peteri. 

Government were now obliged to take stronger 
measures. They recalled Count Forgoes, and 


despatched Count Rddaz as Royal Commissary 
with augmented powers, Parliament in the mean 
time voting a grant of 60,000 florins for the 

The energetic measures taken by Count Radaz 
led to some remarkable disclosures. He discovered 
that tradesmen, magistrates, and other employes 
in towns and villages were in communication with 
the brigands, and in fact shared the booty. It 
came to be remarked that certain persons returned 
suddenly to their homes after a mysterious absence, 
which corresponded with the commission of some 
desperate outrage in another part of the country. 

In the space of fifteen months Count Radaz had 
to deal with nearly six hundred cases of capital 
offences, and no less than two hundred of the male- 
factors were condemned to the gallows. 

" Wherever they can the peasants will shelter the 
' poor lads ' from the law," said my friend. " It 
happened only last spring in our neighbourhood 
that a robber had been tracked to a village, but 
though this had happened on several occasions, yet 
the authorities failed to find him. It was known 
that he had a sweetheart there, a handsome peasant 
girl, who was herself a favourite with everybody. 
One day, however, the soldiers discovered him 
hidden in a hay-loft. There was a terrible struggle ; 


the robber, discharging his revolver, killed one man 
and wounded another. At length he was secured, 
strongly bound, and placed in a waggon to be con- 
veyed to the nearest fortress. When passing through 
a wood the convoy was set upon by a lot of women, 
who flung flowers into the waggon, and a little 
farther on a rescue was attempted ; but the military 
were in strong force, and the villagers had to con- 
tent themselves with loud expressions of sympathy 
for the 'poor lad.' He was, in truth, a hand- 
some, gallant young fellow — open-handed, generous 
to the poor, and with the courage of a lion — just 
the sort of hero for a mischievous romance." 

The following story, related by my friend Baroness 

B -, proves that there were men amongst these 

outlaws who were not destitute of patriotic feeling. 
In the year 1867 a band of " poor lads " surprised ai 
country gentleman's house by night. It was their 1 
habit to ask for money and valuables, and woe betide 
those who refused, unless they were strong enough 
to resist the demand. Horrible atrocities were com- 
mitted by these miscreants, who have been known 
to torture the inhabitants of lonely dwellings, 
finishing their brutal work by setting fire to house 
and homestead. 

On the occasion above named the robber band 
consisted of more than a dozen well-armed men, 


and as the household was but small, resistance was 
out of the question. They made a forcible entrance, 
and were going the round of every room in the 
house, collecting all valuables of a portable nature, 
when it chanced that they entered the guest-cham- 
ber, that had for its occupant no less a person than 
the great patriot Francis Deak. The intruders in- 
stantly pounced on a very handsome gold watch 
lying on a table near the bedside. Mr Deak, thus 
rudely disturbed, awoke to the unpleasant fact that 
his much-prized watch was in the hands of the 
robbers. Giving them credit for some feelings of 
patriotism, he simply told them who he was, adding 
that the watch was the keepsake of a dear departed 
friend, and begged they would restore it to him. 
On hearing his name the chief immediately handed 
the watch back, apologising " very much for break- 
ing in on the repose of honoured Mr De^k, whom 
they held in so much respect," adding "that the 
nature of their occupation obliged them to make 
use of the hours of the night for their work." 

The chance of interviewing Mr Deals: was not to 
be neglected, so the robber chief sat down by the 
bedside of the statesman and had a chat about 
political affairs, and finally took his leave with 
many expressions of respect. Not an article of Mr 
Deak's was touched ; they even contented them- 


selves with a very moderate amount of black-mail 
from the master of the house, and no one was 
personally injured in any way. 

My next story is a very romantic one ; it was 
related to me by an English friend who was travel- 
ling in Hungary as long ago as 1846, when the 
circumstance had recently occurred. It seems that 
in those days a certain lady, the widow of a wealthy 
magnate, inhabited a lonely castle not far from the 
principal route between Buda and Vienna. She 
received one morning a polite note requesting her to 
provide supper at ten o'clock that night for twelve 
gentlemen ! She knew at once the character of 
her self-invited guests, and devised a novel mode 
of defence. Some people would have sent post-haste 
to the nearest town for help, but the chatelaine 
could easily divine that every road from the castle 
would be watched to prevent communication, so 
she made her own plans. 

At ten o'clock up rode an armed band, twelve 
men in all ; immediately the gate of the outer court 
and the entrance door were thrown open, as if for 
the most honoured and welcome guests. The lady 
of the castle herself stood in the entrance to receive 
them, richly dressed as if for an entertainment. 
She at once selected the chief, bade him welcome, 
gave orders that their horses should be well cared 


for, and then taking the arm of her guest, she led 
him into the dining-hall. Here a goodly feast was 
spread, the tables and sideboard being covered with 
a magnificent display of gold and silver plate, the 
accumulation of many generations. 

The leader of the robber band started back sur- 
prised, but immediately recovering his presence 
of mind, he seated himself calmly by the side 
of his charming hostess, who soon engaged him 
in conversation about the gay world of Vienna, 
whose doings were perfectly familiar to them both. 
At length, when the feast was nearly ended, the 
chief took out his watch and said, "Madame, the 
happiest moments of my life have always been the 
I shortest. I have another engagement this night, 
hut before I leave allow me to tell you that in 
appealing to my honour, as you have done to-night, 
you have saved me from the commission of a crime. 
Bad as I am, none ever appealed to my honour in 
vain. As for you, my men/' he said, looking 
sternly round with his hand on his pistol, " I charge 
you to take nothing from this house ; he who dis- 
obeys me dies that instant." 

The chief then asked for pen and paper, and 
writing some sentences in a strange character, 
handed it to his hostess, saying, " If you or your 
retainers should at any time lose anything of value, 


let that paper be displayed in the nearest town, and 
I pledge you my word the missing articles shall be; 
returned." After this he took his leave, the troop! 
mounted their horses and departed. 

My friend told me that he was enabled to verify 
the story ; and he subsequently discovered the reali 
name of the robber chief. He was an impoverished j 
cadet of one of the noblest families in Hungary, j 
His fate was sad enough ; he was captured a few 
months after this incident, and ended his life under! 
the hands of the common hangman. 


Keturn to Buda-Pest — All-Souls' Day — The cemetery — Secret 
burial of Count Louis Batthyanyi — High rate of mortality at 

Some matters of business recalled me to Buda-Pest 
in the midst of a round of visits in Transylvania. 
The great hospitality of my new friends would have 
rendered a winter in that delightful country most 
agreeable, but the holiday part of my tour was 
over, and circumstances led me to pass some months 
in the capital. 

I got back just in time for All-Souls' Day. The 
Fete des Morts is observed with great ceremony 
throughout Hungary, especially at Buda-Pest. In 
the afternoon of this day a friend and myself joined 
the throng, who were with one accord making their 
way eastward along the Kadial' Strasse, the great 
thoroughfare of Pest. It appeared as if the whole 
population of the town had turned out; private 
carriages, tramways, droskies alike were all 
crammed, driving in the same direction with the 
ceaseless stream of pedestrians. It was the day for 


the living to visit their dead ! Attired in black, 
almost every one carried a funeral wreath ; even the 
poorest and the humblest were taking some floral 
offering to their beloved ones who sleep for ever- 
more in the great cemetery. 

There is a dynamic force in the sympathy of a 
crowd. I had the sensation of being carried along 
with the moving masses, without the exercise of 
my own will, I hardly know how one could have 
turned back. And on we went, the light of the 
short winter day meanwhile fading quickly into the 
gloom of night. Once beyond the gaslighted streets, 
the sense of darkness in the midst of the surging 
multitude was oppressive and unnatural. We were 
borne on towards the principal gate of the cemetery, 
and here the effect was most striking. We left the 
outer darkness, and stepped into an area of light; 
beyond the belt of cypress and of yew there was so 
brilliant an illumination that it threw its glowing 
reflection on the clouds that hung pall-like over the 
whole city. 

In all that crowded cemetery — and it is crowded 
— there was not a single grave without its lights. 
The most ordinary had rows of candles marking 
the simple form of the gravestone ; but there were 
costlier tombs, with an array of lamps in banks of 
flowers beautifully arranged; and in the mausoleum 

all-souls' day in pest. 317 

of Batthyanyi the illuminations were effected by gas 
in the form of architectural lines of light. At this 
point the crowd was greatest. To visit the tomb 
of the martyred statesman is deemed a patriotic 
duty. The particulars relating to the disposal of 
Count Batthyanyi's body after his judicial murder 
in 1849 are not very generally known ; the facts are 
as follows. 

At the close of hostilities in 1849, Haynau, com- 
missioned by the Vienna Government, condemned 
people to death with unsparing barbarity — it was a 
way the Austrians had of stamping out insurrections. 
Amongst their victims was Count Louis Batthyanyi, 
some time President of the Hungarian Diet. Hay- 
nau wanted to have him hung at the gallows, but 
he was mercifully shot at Pest on the 6th October 
1849. It is said that the infamous Haynau was 
nearly mad with rage that his noble victim escaped 
the last indignity of hanging. His remains were 
ordered to be buried in a nameless coffin in the 
burial-ground of the common criminals, and for 
many years it was supposed that he had re- 
ceived no other sepulchre. This was not so, 
however, for two priests who were grea.tly attached 
to the magnate's family procured possession of his 
body, and secretly conveyed it to the church in the 
Serviten Gasse, where they built up the coffin in 


the wall, and carefully preserved it for years. "When 
the reconciliation with Austria took place, conceal- 
ment being no longer necessary, they revealed their 
secret. The coffin was then opened, and it was 
found that the features of the unfortunate Batthy- 
anyi had been singularly well preserved. Several 
who had fought for freedom by his side in 1848 
looked once more on the face of their leader. The 
subsequent funeral in the new cemetery was made 
the occasion of a very marked display of patriotic 
feeling. Later an imposing monument was erected, 
but Count Batthyanyi's best and most enduring 
monument is the part he took in the emancipation 
of the serfs. 

Turning aside from the public demonstrations 
around the tombs of poets and patriots, we wan- 
dered down the more secluded alleys of the 
cemetery. In a lonely spot, quite away from the 
crowd and the glare, we came upon an exquisite 
little plot of garden with growing flowers, shrubs, 
and cypress-trees, tended, one could see, with loving 
care, " and in the garden there is a sepulchre." I 
shall not easily forget the look of ineffable grief 
visible on the face of an elderly man who was 
arranging and rearranging the lights round and 
about the family grave. We noticed that the 
names on the slab were those of a wife and 


! mother, followed by her children, several of them, 
sons and daughters, the dates of their decease 
being terribly close one upon another. I had a 

i conviction that the lonely man we saw there was 

i the only survivor of his family ; I feel sure it must 
have been so. It was very touching the way in 

! which he (aimlessly, it seemed to me) moved first 
this light and then the other, or grouped them 

1 together around the vases of sweet flowers that 
decked the graves. It was all that remained for him 
to do for his beloved ones ; and we could see the 
poor man was vainly occupying himself, lingering 
on, unwilling to leave the spot ! 

We had not much fancy for returning amongst 
the patriotic crowd gathered about the gaslighted 
Valhalla, so we made our way out. 

We English must have our say about statistics 
whenever there is a wedding or a funeral, and as 
a fact Buda-Pest comes out very badly in its 
death-rate. It is only within the last two or three 
years that they have taken to publish the com- 
parative returns of the capital cities of Europe, and 

| now it appears that Buda-Pest is in the unenviable 
position of having on an average the highest death - 

I rate of any European town ! By some this is 
attributed to the great excess of infant mortality — 
consolatory for the grown-up people, as reducing 


their risk ; but the children, who die like flies before 
they are twelve months old, may say with the 
epitaph in the country churchyard — 

" If then we so soon were done for, 
What the deuce were we begun for ? " 

I do not speak as one with authority, but duly- 
qualified persons tell me that nursery reform is 
much needed in Hungary. I know not what it is 
they do with the children, only it seems the system 
is wrong somewhere, as the bills of mortality clearly 

Then, again, the position of Pest is not healthy ; 
it lies low, indeed some part of the city is built 
on the old bed of the Danube. The drainage, how- 
ever, is very much improved of late years, and the 
magnificent river embankments have done much to 
obviate the malaria arising from mud-banks. 


Skating — Death and funeral of Deak— Deak's policy — Uneasiness 
about the rise of the Danube — Great excitement about inun- 
dations — The capital in danger — Night scene on the embank- 
ment — Firing the danger-signal — The great calamity averted. 

The winter is usually a very pleasant season at 
Buda-Pest. There is plenty of amusement ; in 
fact, during the carnival, parties, balls, and concerts 
succeed one another without cessation. The Hun- 
garians dance as though it were an exercise of 
patriotism ; with them it is no languid movement 
half deprecated by the utilitarian soul — it is a 
passion whirling them into ecstasy. But dancing 
was not the only diversion. The winter I was 
at Buda-Pest a long spell of enduring frost gave 
us some capital skating. The fashionable society 
meet for this amusement in the park, where there 
is a piece of ornamental water about five acres in 
extent. Here the Skating Club have established 
themselves, having erected a handsome pavilion at 
the side of the lake to serve as a clubhouse. 

From time to time fetes are given on the ice. I 


was present on more than one occasion, and I must 
say it would be difficult to imagine a more animated 
or a prettier scene. The Hungarians always dis- 
play great taste in their arrangements for festive 
gatherings. During the gay carnival of 1876 "all 
went merry as a marriage-bell " till the sad news 
spread that the great patriot Deak was sick unto 
death. Then we heard that he had passed away 
from our midst — I say "our midst," for Hungary 
throws a glamour over the stranger that is within 
her gates, and, moved by irresistible sympathy, 
you are led to rejoice in her joy and mourn with 
her in her sorrow. 

Buda-Pest presented on the day of Deck's funeral 
a scene never to be forgotten. It was a whole 
people mourning for their friend — their safe guide 
in time of trouble, the statesman who of all others 
had planted a firm basis of future prosperity. 

Francis Deak was endowed with that rare gift 
of persuasion which can appeal to hostile parties, 
and in the end unite them in common patriotic 
action. Any one who has attentively considered 
the state of parties in Hungary during the last 
decade will know with what irreconcilable elements 
the great statesman had to deal. To the Magyars 
he said, " He who will be free himself must be 
just to others;" while to the Slavs he said, 


" Labour with us, that we may labour for you." 
" Reconciliation " and " compromise " with Austria 
were the most unpopular words that could be 
uttered at that time, yet Dedk bravely spoke 
them in his famous open letter on Easter day 
1865. He continued his calm and steady appeal 
to public opinion till his patriotic efforts were 
rewarded by the close of that long-standing strife 
between the Hungarian people and their king. 

On the day of the funeral the ground was white 
with snow, the cold was intense, but a vast con- 
course of people followed Deak to his grave. On 
the road to the cemetery every house was hung 
with black, the city was really and truly in mourn- 
ing ; and well it might be, for their great peace- 
maker was dead, the man who beyond all others 
of his generation had the power to restrain the 
impatient enthusiasm of his countrymen by wise 
counsels that had grown almost paternal in their 
gentle influence. 

While we were still thinking and talking of 
Deak's political career, a very present cause for 
anxiety arose in reference to the state of the 
Danube. The annual breaking up of the ice is 
always anticipated with uneasiness, for during 
this century no less than thirteen serious inunda- 
tions have occurred. This year there was reason 


for alarm, for early in January the level of the 
river was unusually high, and a further rise had , 
taken place, unprecedented at that season. 

The greatest disaster of the kind on record took 
place in 1838, when the greater part of Pest was 
inundated, and something like four thousand 
houses were churned up in the flood ; nor was this 
all, for the loss of life had been very considerable, 
owing to the sudden nature of the calamity on that 
occasion. The recollection of this terrible disaster 
within the living memory of many persons kept 
the inhabitants of Buda-Pest very keenly alive to 
any abnormal rise of the Danube waters. There 
were, besides, additional circumstances which created 
uneasiness and led to very acrimonious discussions, j 
In recent years certain " rectifications " had been 
effected in the course of the Danube, which one-i 
half of the community averred would for everj 
prevent the chance of any recurrence of the catas- 
trophe of 1838. But there are always two parties 
in every question — " Little-endians " and " Big-end- 
ians " — and a great many people were of opinion 
that these very "rectifications" were, in fact, an 
additional source of peril to the capital. 

The case stands thus : the river, left to its own 
devices, separates below Pest into two branches, 
called respectively the Soroksar and the Promontar ; 


these branches continue their course independently 
of each other for a distance of about fifty-seven 
kilometres, forming the great island of Csepel, 
which has an average width of about five kilometres. 
By certain embankments on the Soroksar branch the 
regime of the river has been disturbed, and accord- 
ing to the opinion of M. Eevy, a French engineer, 1 
this has been a grave mistake, and he thinks that 
the Danube misses her former channel of Soroksar 
more and more. He further remarks in the very 
strongest terms upon an engineering operation 
" which proposes the amputation of a vital limb, 
conveying about one-third of the power and life 
of a giant river when in flood — a step which has 
no parallel in the magnitude of its consequences in 
any river with which I am acquainted." 

Now let us see which side the Danube took in the 
controversy in the spring of 1876. On the 17th of 
February the public mind had been almost tran- 
quillised by the gradual fall of the water-level, but 
appearances changed very rapidly on the morning of 
the 18th, for alarming intelligence came to Buda- 
Pest from the Upper Danube. It seems that a 
sudden rise of temperature had melted the vast 
deposits of snow in the mountains of the Tyrol and 

1 The Danube at Buda-Pest. Report addressed to Count Andrassy 
by J. J. Revy, C.E. 1876. 


other high ranges which send down their tributary 
waters to the Danube. A telegram from Passau 
announced the startling news that the waters of the 
Inn had risen eleven feet since the afternoon of the 
previous day, and further news came that the Danube 
had risen twelve and a half feet in the same time. 
Following close upon this came intelligence of a 
disastrous inundation at Vienna which had caused 
loss of life and property. The boats and barges 
in the winter harbour of the Austrian capital had 
been dragged from their anchorage, covering the 
river with the debris of wreckage ; in short, wide- 
spread mischief was reported generally from the 
Upper Danube. 

There was a prevalent idea that Buda-Pest had 
been saved by the flood breaking bounds at Vienna, 
but events proved that our troubles were yet to 
come. There was a peculiarity in the thaw of this 
spring which told tremendously against us. It came 
westward — viz., down stream instead of up stream, 
as it usually does. This state of things greatly 
increased the chances of flood in the middle Danube, 
as the descending volume of water and ice-blocks 
found the lower part of the river still frozen and 
inert. Even up to the 21st the daily rise in the 
river was only six inches, and if the large floes of 
ice which passed the town had only gone on their 


course without interruption all might still have been 
well. Unfortunately, however, this was far from 
being the case. It seems that at Eresi, a few miles 
below Buda-Pest, where the water is shallow, the 
ice had formed into a compact mass for the space of 
six miles, and at this point the down-drifting ice- 
blocks got regularly stacked, rising higher and 
higher, till the whole vast volume of water was 
bayed back upon the twin cities of Buda and Pest, 
the latter place being specially endangered by its 
site on the edge of the great plain. 

The authorities now devised plans for clearing 
away this ice-barrier, which acted as an impediment 
to the flow of the river. They tried to blow it up by 
means of dynamite, but all to no purpose ; and it 
soon became apparent that the danger to the capital 
was hourly on the increase. At Pest the excitement 
and alarm became intense, for the mighty waters 
were visibly and inexorably rising. We saw the 
steps of the quay disappear one after another ; then 
the whole subway of the embankment became en- 
gulfed. Ominous cracks appeared in the asphaltic 
promenade of the Corso, and the public were 
warned not to approach the railings, lest they 
should give way bodily and fall over into the 
water, which was lapping at the stonework. The 
"High -Water Commission" found it necessary 


to close all the drains, and steam - pumps were 
brought into requisition ; the town was in fact 
besieged by water, and the enemy was literally at 
the gates. The ordinary business of life was sus- 
pended. The greeting in the street was not, 
"Good-day; how are you V' but, "What of the 
Danube ?" "Do you know the last reading of the 
register V " Does the water still rise V 

" Still rising " — this was always the answer. On 
the morning of the 23d the river had risen upwards 
of two feet in twenty-four hours. Hundreds of 
people now thought seriously of flight from the 
doomed city. There was a complete exodus to 
the heights behind Buda. The suspension bridge 
was crowded day and night by the citizens, carry- 
ing with them their wives, their children, and a 
miscellaneous collection of valuables. In the town 
the shopkeepers removed their goods to the upper 
stories, plastering up the doors and windows of the 
basement with cement ; and careful householders 
laid in provisions for several days' consumption. 
The authorities had enough on their hands ; 
amongst other things they had to provide means 
of rescue, if necessary, for the inhabitants of Old 
Buda, New Pest, and other low-lying quarters. The 
names of all public buildings standing on higher 
levels, or otherwise suitable as places of refuge, 


were notified in the event of a catastrophe. Boats 
also were drawn up on the Corso and in some of the 
squares. From the want of these precautions there 
had resulted that lamentable loss of life in 1838. 

Furthermore, the public were to be informed 
when the danger became imminent by the firing of 
cannon-shots from the citadel on the lofty Blocks- 
berg, which dominates the town on the Buda side. 
The day of the 24th had been wild and stormy, 
the evening was intensely dark ; but notwithstand- 
ing, thousands, nay half Pest, crowded the river- 
bank. For hours this surging multitude moved 
hither and thither on the Corso, drawn together 
by the sense of common danger and distress. 

I was there amongst the rest, peering into the 
darkness. My brother s arm was linked in mine, 
and we stood for some time on the Corso, just 
above the fruit-market, facing Buda ; but nothing, 
not even the outline of the hills, was visible in the 
thick, black darkness of the night. " Ah ! what is 
that? — look!" cried my brother, with a pressure of 
the arm that sent an electric shock through my 
body. Yes, sure enough, there was a flash of fire 
high up on the Blocksberg that made a rift in the 
darkness ; and then, before we had time for speech, 
there came a sharp, ringing, detonating sound that 
made every window in the Corso rattle again. 


Once, twice, thrice the booming cannon roared out 
its terrible warning. It was the appointed signal, 
and we all knew that now the waters had risen so 
high that Old Buda and other low-lying districts 
were in danger. 

That was a terrible night. The general excitement 
was intense, and there were few people, I imagine, 
in all Pest who slept quietly in their beds. 
Every hour news came of the spread of the inun- 
dation. The waters were pouring in behind Pest 
from the upper bend of the river. Matters looked 
very serious indeed. All communication with the 
suburb of New Pest was cut off by the inroads of 
the flood. The night, with its pall of darkness, 
seemed interminable ; but at length the morning 
came, and — God help us! — what a sea of trouble 
the light revealed! Whole districts under water; 
churches and palaces knee-deep in the flood ; and 
above Pest — a widespread lake creeping on over 
the vast plain. 

The only news of the morning was a despairing 
telegram from Eresi that the barrier of ice there 
was immovable. This meant, as I have said before, 
that there was no release for the pent-up waters in 
the ordinary course. The accumulated flood must 
swamp the capital, and that soon. The river had 
ceased to flow past ; it was no longer the " blue 


Danube " running merrily its five miles an hour, 
but a dead sea, an inexorable volume of water, 
slowly, silently creeping up to engulf us. Pest 
is a city which literally has its foundations made 
on the sand ; a portion of it is built on the old 
bed of the Danube. Assuming a certain point as 
zero, the official measurements were made from 
this, and notices were published that if a maxi- 
mum of twenty-five feet were attained by the rising 
waters, then Pest must inevitably be flooded. 

As evening came on, with the cloudy forecast of 
more rain, the gravest anxiety was visible on the face 
of every soul of that vast multitude. This anxiety 
was intensified when it was announced that the 
latest measurement was twenty-four feet nine inches; 
and what was simply appalling, that the register 
marked six inches rise in less than an hour. It was 
clear to every one that the critical moment had 
arrived. There was little to hope, and much to 
fear. Darkness fell upon as dismal a scene as 
imagination could well conceive. If the water 
once overlapped the embankment at the fruit- 
market, it must very soon pour in in vast volume; 
for the streets there are considerably lower than the 
level of the Corso — as it was, several large blocks 
of ice had floated or slid over on the quay. At this 
spot a serious catastrophe was apprehended. 


I think it must have been ten o'clock (my friends 
and I had just taken a hasty supper) when the 
fortress on the Blocksberg again belched forth its 
terrible sound of warning. This time there were 
six shots fired ; this was the signal of " Pest in 
danger." A profound impression of alarm fell on 
the assembled multitude. Some went about wring- 
ing their hands ; others left the Corso hastily, going 
home, I imagine, to tell their women to prepare 
for the worst. I was unconscious at the time of 
taking note of things passing round me, and it 
seems strange, considering the acute tension of my 
nerves, that I saw, and can now recall with per- 
sistent accuracy, a lot of trivial and utterly unim- 
portant incidents that happened in the crowd. I 
remember the size and colour of a dog that mani- 
fested his share in the common excitement by 
running perpetually between everybody's legs, 
and I could draw the face of a frightened child 
whom I saw clinging to its mother's skirts. 

We never quitted the Corso. Though this was the 
third night we had not taken off our clothes, it was 
impossible to think of rest now. I felt no fatigue, 
and I hardly know how the last hour or two passed, 
but I heard distinctly above the murmur of voices 
the town clocks strike twelve. Just afterwards, a 
man running at full speed broke through the crowd, 

"the water is falling!" 333 

shouting as he went, " The water is falling ! the 
water is falling ! " He spoke in German, so I under- 
stood the words directly. There was great excite- 
ment to ascertain if the report was correct. Thank 
God ! he spoke words of truth. The gauge actually 
marked a decrease of no less than two inches in the 
height of the river, and this decrease had taken 
place in the space of half an hour. The river had 
attained the highest point when the danger-signal 
was fired. It had never risen beyond, though the 
level had been stationary for some time. 

Every one was surprised at the rapid fall of the 
Danube; it was difficult to account for. It soon came 
to be remarked that the vast volume of water was 
visibly moved onward. If the river was flowing on 
its way, that meant the salvation of the city — the 
fact was most important. I myself saw a dark 
mass — a piece of wreckage, probably, or the carcass 
of an animal — pass with some rapidity across a 
track of light reflected on the water. It was diffi- 
cult to make out anything clearly in the darkness, 
but I felt sure the object, whatever it was, was 
borne onward by the stream. 

It was a generally-expressed opinion that some- 
thing must have happened farther down the river 
to relieve the pent-up waters. Very shortly of- 
ficial news arrived, and spread like wildfire, that 


the Danube had made a way for itself right across 
the island of Csepel into the Soroksar arm of the 

Csepel is an island some thirty miles long, 
situated a short distance below Pest. The engineer- 
ing works for the regulation of the Danube had, as 
I said before, closed this Soroksar branch, and the 
river, in reasserting its right of way to the sea, 
caused a terrible calamity to the villages on the 
Csepel Island, but thereby Hungary's capital was 



Kesults of the Danube inundations— State of things at Baja--- 
Terrible condition of New Pest — Injuries sustained by the 
island garden of St. Marguerite — Charity organisation. 

Though Buda-Pest had escaped the worst of the 
threatened calamity, the state of the low-lying 
suburbs of the town on both sides of the river was 
very serious, and, as it turned out, weeks elapsed 
before the waters entirely subsided. The extent of 
the Danube inundations in 1876 was far greater 
than the flood of 1838 ; the latter was localised to 
Buda-Pest, where, from the suddenness of the catas- 
trophe, the sacrifice of life was far greater than at 
present. But on this occasion the mischief was 
wide spread indeed. From Passau to Orsova the 
banks of the Danube were more or less flooded. 
The havoc below Pest was wellnigh incalculable. 
The river had in places spread itself out like a small 
sea, inundating lands already in seed; this was 
specially the case at Paks, where both banks of the 
river are equally low — as a rule, the left side was 
the more flooded the whole way along. 


At Baja the destruction to property was most 
serious. Some very important works had just been 
completed, and these were all swept away two 
days after the Danube had burst over the Csepel 
Island at Pest. It is a matter of interest to note the 
travelling rate of the flood, which from being ice- 
clogged was less rapid than one would suppose. 
Baja is 120 miles below Pest. 

The works here referred to were in parts a canal, 
to feed the old Francis Canal, which connects the 
Danube and Theiss, in order to prevent the stoppage 
of traffic, unavoidable at low water. The water and 
ice brought down by the flood hurled themselves 
with such force against the closed gates of the 
canal that they were burst open, and a masonry 
wall 7 feet in thickness and 250 in length was 
entirely overthrown. This incident, together with 
many others, helps to illustrate the action of water 
in flood as a factor in certain geological changes — 
the gorge of Kasan, to wit, where the Danube has 
broken through the Carpathian chain. 

In the course of little more than a day the waters 
at Buda-Pest had fallen two and a half feet ; but 
afterwards the fall was very slow indeed, which 
circumstance greatly protracted the misery of the , 
unfortunate inhabitants of Old Buda and New 
Pest, the two districts most seriously compromised, i 


Joining a relief party, I went in a pontoon to visit 
New Pest. Vast blocks of ice were lying heaped 
up amidst the debris of the ruin they had made ; 
whole terraces and streets were only distinguish- 
able by lines of rubbish somewhat raised above the 
flood : the devastation was complete. 

On our way to the pontoon we passed a tongue 
of land which had not been submerged, with a few 
houses intact. In this street, if it may be so called, 
a crowd of more than a hundred women was 
collected ; these were mostly seated on boxes or 
other fragments of furniture that had been saved ; 
one and all had their faces turned towards the waste 
of waters, where their homes had been. I shall 
never forget their looks of mute despair ; there was 
no crying, no noise, their very silence was a gauge of 
the utter misery that had befallen them. 

The sea of trouble in which we found ourselves 
was strewn with wreckage of all kinds, including 
the bodies of many domestic animals. Doubtless 
many lives were lost ; it will perhaps never be 
known how many. It was unfortunate that no 
service was organised for saving life at the bridges. 
Several lamentable accidents and loss of life took 
place owing to the drifting away of boats and barges 
up stream. A friend of mine saw a barge with four 
men on board jammed in between blocks of ice, and 


hurried under the suspension bridge and down the 
stream. No one was able to respond to the heart- 
rending appeals of the men, who very probably might 
have been saved if simply ropes had been hanging 
from the bridge. I myself saw a poor fellow perish 
in those churning waters ; it was terrible to think 
of his thus drowning in the presence of thousands 
of fellow-creatures. 

The amount of wreckage that passed Buda-Pest 
gave one some idea of the frightful amount of damage 
higher up the stream ; there were heaps of barrels, 
woodstacks, trees, furniture, and even houses with 
their chimneys standing ! 

The beautiful island of St. Marguerite, just above 
Buda-Pest, suffered most severely. It was four feet 
under water ; and the drift ice did immense damage 
to the trees, causing abrasions of the bark at eight 
to ten feet above the ground. 

It may well be imagined that the Charity Organ- 
isation Committee had enough on their hands. 
Nearly 20,000 people sought the shelter provided in 
the public buildings and other places appointed by 
the authorities, and for fully a month after the 
catastrophe thousands had to be fed daily at the i 
public expense. 


Expedition to the Marmaros Mountains — Eailways in Hungary — The 
train stopping for a rest — The Alfold — Shepherds of the plain 
— Wild appearance of the Rusniacks — Slavs of Northern Hun- 
gary — Marmaros Szigeth — Difficulty in slinging a hammock — 
The Jews of Karasconfalu — Soda manufactory at Boeska — Ro- 
mantic scenery — Salt mines — Subterranean lake. 

The spring was already melting into summer — and 
the melting process is pretty rapid in Hungary — 
when an opportunity occurred enabling me to visit 
the north-eastern part of the country with a friend 
who was going to the Marmaros Mountains on busi- 
ness. Even this wild and remote district is not 
without railway communication, and we took our 
tickets for Szigeth, in the county of Marmaros, learn- 
ing at the same time, to our great satisfaction, that 
we could go straight on to our destination without 
stopping. Though my friend is a Hungarian the 
route was as new to him as to myself. 

The railway system has been enormously extended 
in this country during the last ten years. In Tran- 
sylvania, in the Tokay Hegyalia, in the Zipsland, 
and in the mining district of Schemnitz a whole net- 


work of lines has been opened up. Our route from 
Debreczin to Szigeth is one of those recently opened. 
The railway statistics of Hungary are very signifi- 
cant of progress. In 1864 only 1 903 kilometres were 
open, whereas ten years later the figures had risen 
to 6392 kilometres; and the extension has been very 
considerable even subsequently, though enterprise of 
every kind received a check in 1873, from which the 
country has not yet recovered. 

I confess I was very glad to have come in for the 
clays of the iron horse, for it would be difficult to 
imagine anything more tiresome than a drive on 
ordinary wheels across the vast Hungarian plain. 
It is so utterly featureless as to be even without; 
landmarks. Except for the signs of the heavenly 
bodies, a man might, in a fit of absence, turn round 
and fail to realise whether he was going backwards 
or forwards. Eight or left, it is all the same mono- 
tonous dead level, with scarce an object on which to 
rest the eye. Here and there a row of acacia-trees i 
may be seen marking the boundary of an estate, 
and near by the sure indication of a well in the form 
of a lofty pole balanced transversely; but even this 
does not help you, for " grove nods at grove," and; 
what you have just seen on the right-hand side is 
sure somehow to be repeated on the left, so you 
are all at sea again. 


Sometimes a mirage deludes the traveller in the 
Hungarian plain with the fair presentment of a lake 
fringed with forest-trees ; but the semblance fades 
into nothingness, and he finds himself still in an 
endless waste, "without a mark, without a bound." 
Dreary, inexpressibly dreary to all save those who 
are born within its limits ; for, strange to say, 
they love their level plain as well, every bit as 
well, as the mountaineer loves his cloud-eapped 

This plain — the Alfold, as it is called — comprises 
an area of 37,400 square miles, composed chiefly of 
rich black soil underlain by water-worn gravel — 
a significant fact for geologists. It is worthy of 
remark that the Magyar race is here found in its 
greatest purity. Here the followers of Arpad settled 
themselves to the congenial life of herdsmen. At 
the railway stations one generally sees a lot of 
these shepherds from the puszta, each with his 
axe-headed staff and sheepskin cloak, worn the 
woolly side outwards if the weather is hot. They 
can be scented from afar, and their scent, of all 
bad smells, is one of the worst. The fact is, the 
shepherds keep their bodies well covered with 
grease to prevent injurious effects from the very 
sudden changes of temperature so common in all 
Hungary. This smearing of the skin with grease 


is also a defence against insects, which seems pro- 
bable, if insects have noses to be offended. 

Nowhere does the intrusion of modern art and 
its appliances strike one more curiously by force 
of contrast than in the wilder parts of Hungary. 
Just outside the railway station life and manners 
are what they were two centuries ago, and yet 
here are the grappliDg-irons of civilisation. No 
doubt a change will come to all this substratum 
of humanity, "but it takes time. Even the railways 
in these wilder parts have not exactly settled them- 
selves down to the inexorable limits of "time tables." 
It occurred on this very journey that we stopped 
at some small station, for no particular reason as 
far as I could see, for nobody got in or out ; but 
the heat was intense, and so we just made a halt 
of nearly an hour. I could not make out what was 
up at first, but looking out I saw the stokers, 
pokers, and engine-driver all calmly enjoying their 
pipes, seated on the footboard on the shady side of 
the train! Some one or two people remarked that 
the officials in this part of the world were lazy 
fellows, but the passengers generally appeared in 
no great hurry, and after a while the train moved 
on again. At several places on the line we passed 
luggage trains waiting on the siding for their turn 
to be sent on to Buda-Pest. In many of these 


open trucks we noticed a considerable number of 
those fine Podolian oxen, common in these parts, 
and lots of woolly-haired pigs, that look for all the 
world like sheep at a distance. 

The effect of tapping these out-lying districts is 
already producing its natural result ; the cultivator 
finds a ready market for his produce, and the value 
of land is rising, and " must rise in Hungary," says 
Professor Wrightson in his report on the agriculture 
of the Austro -Hungarian empire. 1 

In approaching Debreczin we noticed frequent 
instances of the efflorescence of soda-salts upon the 
surface of the soil. This occurrence greatly impairs 
the fertility of some parts of the Alfbld. Land 
drainage would probably cure this evil, but I do 
not fancy any serious experiments have been tried. 
Skill and labour have not yet been brought to 
bear on the greater part of the land in Hungary. 
It is a country where a vast deal has yet to be 
done, and such are the prejudices of the common 
people that improvements cannot be introduced 
at once and without some caution ; in fact, the 
material conditions of the country itself and the 
climate necessitate considerable experience on the 
part of any foreigner who may settle in Hungary 
and think to import new fashions in agriculture. 

1 Journal of Agricultural Society, vol. x. Part xi. No. xx. 


Stopping at Debreczin only long enough to get a 
little supper at the station restaurant, we pursued 
our journey through the night. I do not imagine 
that we lost much that was worthy of note owing 
to the darkness, for the line continues to traverse a 
sandy plain utterly devoid of good scenery. Towards 
morning we passed two important towns — namely, 
Nagy K^roly and Szathmar. The latter is the seat 
of a Catholic bishop, and has no less than 19,000 
inhabitants — a good-sized place for Hungary. In 
1711 the peace between the Austrians and Eakoczy 
was signed in this town. Not far from here are the 
celebrated gold, silver, and lead mines of Nagy 

We arrived at the junction station of Kiraly-haza 
early in the morning, and there learned the agree- 
able news that we must wait ten hours, though only 
a few miles from our destination. From this place 
there is a line to Satoralja-Uihely, a junction on the 
main line between Buda-Pest and Lemberg. The 
town of Kiraly-haza is situated in a wide valley 
bounded by high mountains. The plain is left far 
behind, and we are once more under the shadow of 
the Carpathians. The heat of the day was intense, 
and there was not much in the immediate neighbour- 
hood to tempt us out in the broiling sun, so we just 
got through the time as best we could. The food was 


very bad and the wine execrable, an adulterated 
mixture not worthy of the name. This is. a rare 
occurrence in Hungary, and it ought not to have 
been the case here, for there are good vineyards close 
to the town. 

It was getting towards evening before our train 
appeared, and when it stopped at the station as wild 
a looking crew turned out of the carriages as I ever 
remember to have seen. On inquiry I found that 
these people were Eusniacks. Their occupation at 
this time of the year is to convey rafts down the 
Theiss. It seems their work was done, and they 
were returning by train. After the halt of ten 
minutes, and when the passengers were resuming 
their seats, I found that these fellows were all 
crowded into some empty horse-boxes attached to 
the train. The officials treated them as if they 
were very little better than cattle. These people, 
with their shoeless feet encased in thongs of leather, 
with garments unconscious of the tailor s art, and in 
some instances regardless of the primary object of 
clothes as a human institution, were the most un- 
civilised of any I had yet seen in Hungary. 

These Eusniacks, or " Little Eussians," as they 
are called, are tolerably numerous — not less than 
470,000, according to statistical returns. They are 
to be found almost exclusively in the north-east of 


Hungary. They were fugitives in the old days from 
Russia, to whom they are intensely antagonistic, 
having probably suffered from her persecutions. In 
religion they are dissenters from the orthodox Greek 
Church, assimilating more with Eoman Catholicism. 
These people are another variety in the strange 
mixture of races to be found in Hungary. It is 
thought, and it would seem probable, that the very 
fact of the military conscription will help to civilise 
these Rusniacks by drawing them out of their savage 
isolation in the wild valleys of the Marmaros Moun- 

There are many peculiarities respecting the races 
inhabiting the northern parts of Hungary. It 
would be a great mistake to put the Slavs of the 
north in the same category with the Slavs of the 
south : the former are on far better terms with the 
Magyars ; they are for the most part contented, hard- 
working people, not troubling themselves at all 
about Panslavism. The reason is not far to seek. 
The Slovacks, as they are called by way of distinction, 
numbering about two millions, do not belong to the 
Greek Church. The greater proportion are Eo- 
man Catholics, the rest Lutherans and Calvinists. 
Many of the Catholics are said to be descended 
from refugees who fled from the tyranny of the 
Greek Church in Polish Russia. 


After leaving Kiraly-haza we got into charming 
scenery. As we approached the Carpathians we 
passed through vast oak -forests, and here and 
there had a glimpse of the Theiss rushing along 
over its stony bed. Occasionally we caught sight 
of herds of buffaloes bathing in the river. It 
is difficult to imagine that these fierce - looking 
creatures, with their massive shaggy heads, can 
ever be tractable ; yet they can be managed, though 
only by kindness — "the rod of correction they cannot 
bear." At length we reached the end of our railway 
journey. Marmaros Szigeth is the present terminus 
of the line, and I should say will very probably 
remain such ; for the iron road would hardly 
meander through the defiles and over the heights 
of the Carpathians, to descend into the sparsely- 
inhabited wilds of the Bukovina. We sought out 
the principal inn at Szigeth, a wretched place, with 
only one room and a single bed at our disposal. 

My friend took possession of the bed at my 
request, for I told him I was quite independent 
of the luxury, having provided myself before I left 
England with an excellent hammock made of twine. 
I had learned to sleep in these contrivances during 
my naval volunteer days, but the order to " sling 
hammocks " would not have been easy to obey 
under the present circumstances. I was forced to 


put my screws in the floor and hang my net over 
some heavy furniture ; but when I got in, the table 
that I had chiefly depended upon gave way with a 
crash, and I found myself on the floor. My friend 
laughed heartily; he had never seen a hammock 
before, and, spite of my representations, I do not 
think he was properly impressed by the great utility 
of the invention. Of course I was not to be foiled, 
so I cast about for another method of " fixing." I 
tried several dodges, but nothing answered exactly ; 
something always gave way after a few minutes of 
repose — either I came down with a bump, or some 
abominable, ramshackle chest of drawers got over- 

Now my friend was very tired and sleepy, and 
desired nothing so much as a little repose. My 
experiments ceased to interest him, and the noise 
caused by my repeated misfortunes irritated him. 
A large-minded man would have admired my ten- 
acity of purpose, but he did not. One can never 
tell what people are till we travel with them. In 
a tone of mingled solicitude and irritation he offered 
to vacate his bed in my favour. He declared he 
would willingly lie on the hard floor, or indeed, if I 
would only consent to take his place, he would sit 
bolt upright in a chair through the livelong night. 

" I will do anything," he added piteously, " if 


you will only be quiet and not try to hang yourself 
any more in that horrible netting." 

I would not hear of my friend leaving his bed, 
and after one or two more mischances self and 
hammock were suspended for the night at an angle 
a trifle too low for the head. Except for the honour 
and glory of the thing, perhaps I might have slept 
as well on the floor ; but one does not carry a patent 
contrivance all across Europe to be balked of its 
use after all. 

My friend woke me once during the night by 
shaking me roughly. He said I had nightmare, and 
made "such a devil of a row that he could not 
sleep." I have some dreamy recollection of finding 
myself in a London drawing-room in the inex- 
pressibly scanty garments of a Rusniack, and when 
I turned to leave in all decent haste I found the 
way barred by an insolent fellow with the head 
of a buffalo bull. When I awoke in the early 
morning I found my friend already dressed and 
rather sulky. He observed that he had never 
met a man so addicted to nightmare as myself, 
adding, that another time if I must sleep in my 
hammock, it would be better to see that the head 
was higher than the feet. 

"It does not make any difference to me," I 
replied cheerfully, " I am as fresh as a lark." 


There was no time for further discussion, for our 
breakfast was ready (a very bad breakfast it was, 
too), and the vehicle we had chartered the night 
before was also waiting to convey us some miles 
into the interior of the country, to the soda manu- 
factory at Boeska. On our way we passed through 
the village of Karasconfalu, inhabited entirely by 
Polish Jews. The dirt and squalor of this place 
beggar description. The dwellings are not houses, 
but are simply holes burrowed in the sandbanks, 
with an upright stone set up in front to represent a 
door ; windows and chimneys are unknown. If it 
were not for a few erections more like ordinary 
human habitations, the place might have passed for 
a gigantic rabbit-warren. As we drove through we 
saw some of the villagers engaged in slaughtering 
calves and sheep in the middle of the road, the blood 
running down into a self-made gutter ; it was a 
sickening sight. The people themselves have a 
most peculiar physiognomy, especially the men, 
who in addition to long beards wear corkscrew ring- 
lets, which give them a very odd appearance. Their 
principal garment is a kind of long brown dressing- 
gown, which in its filthy grimness suits the wearer 
down to the ground. The feet are bound up in 
thongs of leather. The shoemaker s trade is ap- 
parently unknown in these parts. The inhabitants 
of this delightful village have the reputation of 

jews. 351 

being a set of born cheats and swindlers ; if it is 
true, then certainly the moral is plain, that dis- 
honesty is not a thriving trade. The fact is, being 
all of one sort, the profession is overcrowded, and 
the result is that the sharpest amongst them emigrate, 
or rather I should say go farther a-field to exercise 
their craft. I am told that many of the low Jews, 
who make themselves a byword and a reproach by 
their practices of cheating and usury throughout 
Hungary, may be traced back to this foul nest in 
the Marmaros Mountains. It would be well for the 
credit of the Jewish community in Hungary, as well 
as elsewhere, if something were done to raise these 
people out of the utter degradation which surrounds 
them from their birth. 

Not far beyond Karasconfalu we came upon 
Boeska, situated in the midst of the most beauti- 
ful and romantic scenery, not at all suggestive of 
the neighbourhood of a chemical manufactory. 
Putting up at the house of the manager of the 
works, we remained here two or three days, during 
which time we made some excursions into the 
heart of the mountains. One of our drives took 
us some miles along the side of the beautiful river 
Theiss, which though a proverbial sluggard when 
it reaches the plain, is here a swift and impetuous 
stream. Our object was to see the timber-rafts 
pass over the rapids ; it was a very exciting 


scene, and as this was a favourable season, owing 
to the state of the river, we came in just at the 
right time. The Eusniacks — the people generally 
employed in this perilous work — certainly display 
great skill and coolness in the management of their 
ticklish craft. If by any mischance the timbers 
come in contact with the rocks, then the danger is 
extreme ; and hardly a year passes that some of the 
poor fellows do not get carried away in the swirling 
waters, which have made for themselves deep and 
treacherous holes in this part of the stream. 

The pine-trees in the forests of the Marmaros 
Mountains are simply magnificent; the birch and 
oak are hardly less remarkable. It is really 
grievous to see the amount of ruthless destruction 
which is allowed to go on in these valuable forests, 
more especially in those belonging to the State. It 
is the old story — the Eusniack herdsman, to get 
herbage for his cattle, will set fire to the forest, 
and perhaps burn some hundreds of acres of stand- 
ing timber. The result brings very little good to 
himself; but the blackened trunks of thousands 
of half-burned trees bear witness to the peasant's 
inveterate love of waste, and the utter inefficiency 
of the forest laws, or rather of their administration. 
Throughout Hungary it is the same, the power of 
the law does not make itself felt in the remoter 


provinces. For example, in the year 1877 there 
have been scores of incendiary fires in the county 
of Zemplin ; homesteads, hayricks, and woods have 
suffered, and yet punishment rarely falls on the 
offender. Government should look to this, for 
lawlessness is a most infectious disorder. 

The Marmaros district is chiefly known for the 
salt mines, which have been worked here for 
centuries. Salt is a Government monopoly in 
Hungary, and is sold at the high price of five 
florins the hundredweight, forming, in fact, an im- 
portant source of revenue. The mines at Slatina, 
not far from Szigeth, are well worth a visit. One 
of the chambers is of immense size ; in this a 
pyramid of salt is left untouched, and by its down- 
ward growth marks the progress of excavation. At 
the foot of this pyramid is a little altar, where 
every year, on the 3d of March, mass is celebrated 
with great ceremony, that being the day of 
Kunigunde, the patron saint of the mines. 

One of our expeditions was to visit the mines 
at Konasick. Here, too, is an enormous cave 
with a dome-shaped roof, one hundred and fifty 
feet above the surface of the water, which covers 
the floor to the amazing depth, it is said, of three 
hundred feet. Part of the visitor's programme is 
to be paddled about on this subterranean lake. We 


embarked on a raft slowly propelled by rowers ; 
a cresset fire burning brightly at the prow of our 
craft cast strange lights and shadows on the 
black waters, added to which the shimmering 
reflection of the white-ribbed walls had a very 
singular effect. But the sensation was still more 
weird when we saw other mystic forms appearing 
from out the black darkness ; first a mere speck of 
red light was visible, till nearing us we beheld other 
boats freighted with grim-looking figures that 
glided past into the further darkness. These 
phantom-like forms, steering their rafts through 
the black and silent waters, were grotesquely lit 
up from time to time by the pulsating red fire- 
light. It might have been a scene from Dante's 

It was with the sense of escape from a living 
tomb that we emerged from the depths below into 
the upper air, and here awaited us a sight never 
to be forgotten, more especially for its singular 
contrast to the horrid gloom of the under-world. 
Here, above ground, in the blessed free expanse of 
earth and sky, we beheld the heavens ablaze with 
all the intensest glory of a magnificent sunset. 
One's soul in deep gladness drank in the ineffable 
loveliness of nature, as if athirst for the beauty of 
light and life. 


The Tokay district — Visit at Schloss G Wild-boar hunting — 

Incidents of the chase. 

My first expedition to the Tokay district was in the 

winter ; I was then the guest of Baron V , who 

has a charming chateau, surrounded by an English 
garden, in this celebrated place of vineyards. 

In the winter there is a very fair amount of good 
sport in this part of Hungary. Sometimes one is 
enabled to go out hare-shooting in sledges ; of 
course the horses' bells are removed on these occa- 
sions. Hares are not preserved in the Tokay 
district, but they are pretty numerous. I myself 
shot fifty-four in the space of a few weeks, which is 
nothing compared to an English battue of a single 
day ; but then this is sport, and there is immense 
pleasure in dashing right across country behind a 
pair of fleet horses, thinking yourself well repaid if 
you bag a couple or three hares in the afternoon's 
scamper. For wolf and wild -boar hunting one 
must penetrate into the forests which extend in the 


rear of the southern slopes of this Tokay range of 

During my stay at G a party was got up 

for a few days' shooting in the interior. On this 
occasion we were to shoot in Baron Beust's forests, 
which extend over an area of about forty miles 
square ; as it may be supposed, the sport is not the 
easy affair it is in the well-stocked parks of Bohemia. 

There was not snow enough for sledging, so we 
drove to the rendezvous on wheels, using the spring- 
less carts of the country, the roads being far too 
rough for ordinary carriages. Wrapped in our 
bundas, we were proof against the cold. The wolf- 
skin collar turned up rises above the head and forms 
a capital protection ; and very necessary it was on 
this occasion, for there was a keen cutting wind the 
day we started. 

I carried a smooth-bore breechloader charged 
with the largest buck-shot in one barrel and with a 
bullet in the other. In Hungary the forests are 
usually so thick that one scarcely ever fires at a long 
range, and heavy shot at a short distance in a 
thicket is better than a bullet. After driving in a 
break-neck fashion for about two hours we arrived 
at the river Bodrog, a tributary of the Theiss. 
Nearly every winter the country hereabouts is 
under water ; I remember once seeing it when there 

TOKAY. 357 

was all the appearance of an extensive inland sea. 
Sometimes the inundations are disastrous, but the 
ordinary flood is an accepted event, and no damage 
accrues beyond the prevalence of marsh fever in 
April and May, when the water recedes. This part 
of the country offers first-rate wildfowl-shooting in 
the season. 

Everywhere in Hungary the different races are 
strangely mixed up together : the Tokay Hegyalia, 
it is true, is chiefly peopled by Magyars, and the 
language is said to be the purest Magyar spoken 
anywhere ; but there are Slavs and Jews amongst 
them, and our drive of twenty miles brought us 
into an area where the Slavs predominate. The 
difference of these races is very marked : the one, 
fair complexioned and blue eyed ; the Magyar, dark, 
almost swarthy amongst the lower classes. At 
Olasz-Liszka, a small town within the Tokay 
district, there is an Italian colony, as the name 
Olasz (Italian) would imply. As long ago as the 
days of Bela II. this place was peopled by Italian 
immigrants from the neighbourhood of Venice, in- 
vited hither by the king, who greatly encouraged 
the cultivation of the vine. 

Go where you will in this country, there is a 
Babel of tongues. In this instance our special 
coachman was a Bohemian, speaking his own 


language — a very different dialect from the Slo- 
vacks who were the " beaters" for our hunt. The 
gamekeepers, or rather the foresters (for the game 
is of secondary consideration), were all Magyars. 
Their language, as we know, bears no affinity to any 
of the rest. The marvel is that the world gets on 
at all down here. The gentlemen of our party spoke 
together indifferently German, French, and English. 
It is curious to hear the peasant come out with, 
" Why the Tartar are you doing this ? " for an 
angry expletive. It is a relic of the old troubled 
times when the country suffered from the frequent 
depredations of Turks and Tartars. The Tokay 
district, say the chronicles, was fearfully harassed 
by the Turks as late as 1678. 

It is worth while recalling a contemporaneous 
fact. In 1529 the crescent had been substituted 
for the cross on the Cathedral of Vienna to pro- 
pitiate the Turks, and it was not till 1683 that 
the symbol of the dreaded Moslem was removed. 
When the Hungarians ceased to fear the Turk, 
they ceased to hate him; and since 1848 they 
remember only the generous hospitality of the 
Porte, and the cruel aggressions and treachery of 
the Eussians. The Slav has a longer memory, for 
to this day he repeats the saying, " Where the 
Turk comes, there no grass grows." 


When we arrived at our destination our appetites 
were far too keenly set to think about the Eastern 
Question, and right glad were we to see active 
preparations for supper. The national dishes, the 
gulyas hits and the paprika handl, were produced 
amongst a number of other good things, such as 
roast hare. You get to like the paprika, or red 
pepper, very much. I wonder it is not introduced 
into English cookery, it makes such a pretty-coloured 
gravy. If the traveller finds himself attacked by 
marsh fever, and should chance to be without quinine 
(a great mistake, by the way), let him substitute a 
spoonful of paprika mixed with a little red wine, 
repeating the dose every four hours if necessary. 
While smoking our peace - pipes after supper, one 
of the keepers came in to announce the welcome 
fact that it was snowing hard * fresh-lain snow 
would materially increase our chances of tracking 
the wild -boar. 

Next morning when we started the weather had 
somewhat cleared, which was just as well, seeing 
we had to walk two or three miles to our first 
battue. Arrived at the rendezvous, we found the 
"beaters" waiting for us. They were a wild- 
looking crew were those Slovacks, with shaggy coats 
of black sheepskin, and in their hands the usual 
long staff with the axe at one end. Notwith- 


standing their uncouth appearance, later experience 
has shown me that the Slovacks, as a rule, are 
patient, hard-working people. 

The forest where we were consisted entirely of 
beech and oak. The acorns attract the wild-boar, 
which have increased in a very remarkable manner 
in this locality. I was told that twenty years ago 
there were no wild-boar in these forests, while now 
there are hundreds. This seems odd, for the oak- 
trees are pretty well as old as the hills, and offered 
the same temptation in the way of food formerly 
as now. In fact the increase of the wild-boar is a 
serious nuisance to the vine-grower, for they tramp 
across to the southern hill-slopes, and occasionally 
make raids on the vineyards, devouring the grapes 
with unparalleled greediness, and what is still 
worse, they will sometimes plough up and destroy 
a whole plot of carefully-tended vineyard. 

Formerly there were many deer in these forests, 
but now there are only a few roedeer. We saw no 
traces of wolves on this occasion, but there are 
plenty in this part of the country. 

We were only ten guns, and were soon posted 
each man in his proper position waiting for the 
schwarzivild, as the Germans say; but, alas! nothing 
appeared till the beaters themselves came in sight. 
So we had to organise battue number two. The 


beaters walk quietly forward, tapping the trees now 
and then. This is quite noise enough for the pur- 
pose of rousing the game ; if they shouted or made 
too much row, the game would get wild and 

In the next battue I had hardly been five minutes 
at my post when I heard from behind the breaking 
of dead branches, as of some animal advancing 
slowly. It was a fine buck which made his appear- 
ance, but he scented me and made off. Again about 
a hundred yards off I got a glimpse of him between 
the trees. I fired with effect. We found him after- 
wards about two hundred yards farther on, where 
he had fallen. It was very provoking ; up to lunch- 
time we sighted no wild-boar, though we saw by 
the snow that they must have been about the hill- 
side during the night. We had soon a good fire 
blazing, at which robber-steak was nicely cooked. 
I never enjoyed anything more. We washed down 
our repast with good Tokay. 

After luncheon we commenced work again. By 
this time we had advanced into the very heart of 
the forest. The smooth boles of the tall beech-trees 
looked grand in their winter nakedness, rising like 
columns from the white frost-bespangled ground. I 
took up my stand, gun in readiness, waiting for the 
tramp, the snort, or the grizzly dark form of the 


wild-boar, but nothing came to disturb the utter 
solitude of the scene. 

But hark ! I hear shots fired repeatedly in the 
lower valley. I, too, begin to look out with 
quickened pulse, peering into the misty depths of 
the forest, and with ear alert for every sound, but all 
to no purpose. Nothing comes my way, though 
again I hear two more shots echo sharply in the 
narrow valley nearer to me than before. After the 
lapse of a few minutes the beaters came up, break- 
ing through the dead branches of undercover. I 
knew now that my own chance was gone, but I was 
curious to know what had happened, and joining 
two of my friends whose "stand" had been near 
mine, we hurried down the valley to see what sport 
had turned up for the other guns. On inquiry it 
appeared that at least seventy wild-boars had passed 
close to one of our party, but the sight of so many 
at once had made his aim unsteady, and he only 
succeeded in wounding one of the number. The 
animal had dashed into the half-frozen stream at 
the bottom of the valley, and our friend had to 
reload and give him his final shot there. 

We formed one more battue, but nothing came 
of it, and it was already high time to return to our 
quarters, for the whole scene was growing dim in 
the wintry twilight. Some of the party, myself 


included, went by arrangement to the house of one 
of the foresters. The good people, in their desire to 
be hospitable, gave us a warm reception. They had 
heated the rooms to such an extent that we were 
almost baked alive. 

The next morning we resumed our sport. During 
the first battue eight wild-boars were sighted. One 
was shot instantly ; the others broke through the 
line of beaters, but in doing so a very unusual thing 
happened, for one of the foresters succeeded in kill- 
ing a boar by a tremendous blow from his axe. We 
were very much surprised that the animal had come 
near enough, for as a rule they will not approach 
human beings except when wounded, and then they 
are most formidable assailants. I regret to say that 
one of our dogs was ripped up by one of this herd 
of eight. 

This was the beginning and end of our sport for 
the day. Our indifferent luck was to be accounted 
for from the fact of there being, comparatively 
speaking, not much snow. 


Tokay vineyards — The vine-grower's difficulties — Geology of the 
Hegyalia — The Pope's compliment to the wine of Tallya — Towns 
of the Hegyalia — Farming — System of wages at harvest — The 
different sorts of Tokay wine. 

The vintage is the season of all others for Tokay ; 
in former days it was a very gay affair, for then 
every noble family in Hungary, especially the 
bishops, had vineyards in the Hegyalia, and the 
magnates came to the vintage with large retinues of 
servants and horses ; and feasting and hospitality 
were the order of the day. In the good old times 
every important event in the family was celebrated 
by much drinking of Tokay, but in these degenerate 
days other fashions prevail. Before their kingdom 
was dismembered the Poles were the best customers 
for Tokay wine, but they are too poor now to have 
such luxuries ; added to this, Eussia has for nearly 
a century past laid an almost prohibitive duty on 
Hungarian wine. The fiscal impositions of Austria 
have also weighed heavily on Hungary's productions. 
At present North Germany and Scandinavia are 


amongst the most ready purchasers of Tokay ; and 
England is beginning to appreciate the "Szamarodni" 
or " dry Tokay," remarkable for the absence of all 
deleterious sweetness. 

In good years the vintage of Tokay may be esti- 
mated at something like 150,000 eimers, an eimer 
being about two and a half gallons; but a really 
good year is the exception, not the rule. For three 
years (since 1874) the vintages have all been below 
the average. The season of 1876 was a complete 
failure ; a disastrous frost on the 19th of May in 
that year completely destroyed the hopes and pros- 
pects of the vine-grower. Indeed he has a trying 
life of it, for his hopes go up and down with the 
barometer. If his vines escape the much-dreaded 
May frosts, there is a risk that the summer may be 
too wet for the grapes, which love sunshine. Then, 
again, in the hottest summers there are violent hail- 
storms, and in half an hour he may see his promis- 
ing crop beaten to the ground. It has been well 
remarked that " the weather seems to have no con- 
trol over itself in Hungary." 

The vine-grower's troubles do not end when the 
vintage is successfully over. Tokay is a troublesome 
wine in respect to fermentation ; it requires three 
years before it can travel, and even when these 
critical years are over, the wine will sometimes get 


"sick" in the spring — at the identical time when 
the sap rises in the living plant. 

The unique quality of the Tokay is due to the 
soil, and perhaps to some other conditions ; but not 
to the peculiarity of the grape, for, as a matter 
of fact, they grow a variety of sorts. The cultiva- 
tion of the vine appears to be of great antiquity in 
this part of the world. The introduction of the 
plant is attributed to the inevitable Phoenician ; but, 
treading on more assured historic ground, we find 
that King Bela IV., in the thirteenth century, 
caused new kinds of grapes to be imported from 
Italy, and brought about an improvement generally 
in the culture of the vine. 

But to return to the question of the soil. The 
Tokay Eperies group of hills is one of several well- 
defined groups of volcanic rocks that exist in Hun- 
gary and Transylvania. In the Tokay district the 
formations are partly eruptive, partly sedimentary, 
but nowhere older than the Tertiary period, say the 
geologists. The Hegyalia (which means " mountain- 
slopes" in the Magyar tongue) forms the southern 
spur of the extended volcanic region, composed of 
trachyte and rhyolithe, beginning at Eperies and 
terminating in the conical hill of Tokay, which pro- 
trudes itself so singularly into the Alfold, or plain. 

But the vine-growing district does not end at 


Tokay; it continues on the eastern slopes of the 
mountain range as far as Uihely, forming two 
sides of an irregular triangle, and the total length, 
say from Szanto in the west to Tokay, and from 
Tokay to Uihely, being about thirty-eight miles. 

As a matter of fact, Tokay, which gives its name 
to the wine, does not produce the best vintage ; 
other localities are more esteemed. Tallya, for 
example, situated a few miles east of Szanto, has 
long been renowned. As early as the sixteenth 
century the excellence of the wine from this district 
was acknowledged by infallible authority. It 
appears that during the sitting of the Council of 
Trent, wines were produced from all parts for the 
delectation of the holy fathers. George Drasko- 
vics, the Bishop of Ftinfkirchen, brought some of 
his celebrated vintage, and presenting a glass of it 
to the Pope, observed that it was Tallya wine. 
"Whereupon his Holiness pronounced it to be nectar, 
surpassing all other wines, exclaiming with ready 
wit, " Summum Pontificum talia vina decent." 
This place, so happily distinguished by Papal wit, 
is pleasantly situated on the side of the hill ; it 
possesses about 2100 acres of vineyards. 

The places in the Hegyalia are all called towns, 
though in reality they are not much more than 
large villages. Tokay has 4000 inhabitants ; it is 


at the foot of the hill, close to the junction of the 
Theiss and the Bodrog ; a ruined castle forms a 
picturesque object in the foreground, and beyond is 
the far-stretching plain. Professor Judd says 1 that 
at one period of their history '"the volcanic islands 
of Hungary must have been very similar in appear- 
ance to those of the Grecian Archipelago." Look- 
ing at the conical-shaped hill of Tokay, and the 
other configurations of the range, it is quite easy to 
take in the idea, and under certain atmospheric 
conditions the great plain very closely resembles an 
inland sea. 

At Tokay the Theiss becomes navigable for 
steamers, but the circuitous course of the river 
prevents much traffic, more especially since the 
extension of railways. The next place is Tarczal, 
and here the Emperor of Austria has some fine vine- 
yards. Some people have an idea that all the wine 
grown in the whole district is Imperial Tokay, and 
that the vineyards themselves, one and all, are 
imperial property. This is very far from being the 
case ; in fact, since 1848, the peasant proprietors 
hold more largely than any other class. The easy 
transfer of land facilitates the purchase of small lots, 
and the result is that every peasant in the Heg- 
yalia tries to possess himself of an acre or two, or 

1 Ancient Volcanoes of Hungary. 

TOKAY. 369 

even half an acre of vineyard. The cultivation 
seems to pay them well ; but a succession of bad 
seasons must be very trying, for the vineyards can- 
not be neglected be the year good or bad. 

At Zombar, a village in this locality, there is a 
good instance of what can be got out of reclaimed 
land ; it was formerly under water for the greater 
portion of the year. The soil is so rich in decayed 
vegetable matter as to be almost black, and now 
grows excellent crops of tobacco and Indian corn. 
The country north-east of Tokay is certainly the 
most picturesque side, there is more foliage, and 
there is also water. 

The first time I drove through Bodrog-Keresztur, 
which is on this side, I thought that, notwithstand- 
ing the pretty country, I had never seen so desolate 
a place. The town was once famed for its markets, 
but the railways have changed all this ; almost 
every other house is a ruin, and large trees may be 
seen growing between the walls. 

In the last century a company of Kussian soldiers 
were stationed here for the purpose of buying Tokay 
wine for the Eussian Court. 

One of the prettiest little places in the Hegyalia 
is Erdo-Benye ; it is off the main road, right in 
amongst the hills. It boasts the largest wine-cellar 
in the whole district ; it has twenty-two ramifica- 

2 A 


tions at two different levels, the whole being cut out 
of the solid rock ; it is more like a subterranean 
labyrinth than a cellar. This place was formerly 
the property of the renowned family of Bakoczy, 
who played no mean part in Hungarian history. 
Not far from Erdo-Benye are mineral- water baths, 
romantically situated in the oak-forest. 

Saros Patak and Uihely are the two most note- 
worthy towns in the north-eastern side of the Tokay 
triangle. The first named has a Calvinist college of 
some considerable reputation, a library of 24,000 
volumes, a printing-press, and a botanical garden. 
Uihely is the county town of Zemplin. An agri- 
cultural show was held here last spring (1877), 
which I attended. Our English-made agricultural 
implements were very much to the fore on this 
occasion. Some people complain of these machines 
on the score of their getting out of order rather 
easily, and of the immense difficulty of having them 
repaired in the country. This objection, I have 
heard, does not apply alike to all the English 
makers. At this show there were some new kinds 
of wine-presses which attracted a good deal of at- 
tention ; before long no doubt not a few changes 
will be effected in the process of wine-making in 
Tokay. Considering that Hungary holds the third 
raDk in Europe as a wine-producing country, the 



whole question of the manipulation of wine is a 
very important one for her. 

Amongst the live stock at this show I noticed 
some very fine merino sheep. In Hungary the 
wool-producing quality is everything in sheep, as 
mutton has hardly any value. This was only a 
country show, and the horses, from an Englishman's 
point of view, were not worth looking at ; but there 
are plenty of fine horses in Hungary. The Govern- 
ment has been at immense pains to improve the 
breed by introducing English and Arabian sires. 
For practical purposes the native breed must not 
be decried ; the Hungarian horse, though small, has 
many excellent qualities. For ordinary animals the 
prices are very low, which fact does not encourage 
the peasants to take much care of the foals. On 
this occasion I bought a couple of horses for farming 
purposes ; the two only cost me about £11. 

With regard to farming, our English notions of 
" high farming " will not do in Hungary ; what is 
called the " extensive system " pays best. For 
instance, if I were already farming, and had some 
disposable capital at hand, I should find it pay me 
better to invest in buying more land than in try- 
ing to increase the produce of what I had already 
in hand. After some practical experience in the 
country, I have no hesitation in saying that Hungary 


offers a good field for the employment of English 

Vineyards, on the other hand, can only be worked 
" intensively." Nothing requires more care and 
attention. To begin with, the aspect of the vine 
garden influences the quality of the wine im- 
mensely. Then there is the soil. The best is the 
plastic clay (nyirok), which appears to be the 
product of the direct chemical decomposition of 
volcanic rock. This clay absorbs water but very 
slowly, and is, in short, the most favourable to the 
growth of the vine. As the vines are mostly on 
the steep hillsides, low walls are built to prevent 
the earth from being washed away. In the early 
spring one of the first things to be done is to repair 
the inevitable damage done by the winter rain or 
snow to these walls, and to clear the ditches, which 
are carefully constructed to carry off the excess of 
water. I should observe that in the autumn, soon 
after the vintage, the earth is heaped up round the 
vines to protect them from the intense cold which 
prevails here, and directly the spring comes, one 
must open up the vines again. Id Tokay the vines 
are never trellised, they are disposed irregularly, 
not even in rows — the better to escape the denuda- 
tion of their roots by rain. Each vine is supported 
by an oak stick, which, removed in autumn, is 



replaced in spring after the process of pruning. 
When the young shoots are long enough they are 
bound to these sticks, and are not allowed to grow 
beyond them. 

No less than three times during the summer 
the earth should be dug up round the roots of 
the vine, and it is very desirable to get the second 
digging over before the harvest, for when har- 
vest has once commenced it is impossible to get 
labourers at any price. The harvest operations 
generally begin at the end of June, and last six 
weeks. In the part of Hungary of which I am 
now speaking the labourer gets a certain proportion 
of the harvest. In this district he has every 
eleventh stack of corn, and as they are fed as well 
during the time, a man and his wife can generally 
earn enough corn for the whole year. The sum- 
mers are intensely hot, and the work in conse- 
quence very fatiguing. The poor fellows are often 
stricken with fever, the result, in some cases, of 
their own imprudence in eating water-melons to 

It is not till the third or fourth week in October 
that the vintage is to be looked for. It is not the 
abundance of grapes that makes a good year ; the 
test is the amount of dried grapes, for it is to these 
brown withered-looking berries that the unique 


character of the wine is due. If the season is 
favourable, the over-ripe grapes crack in September, 
when the watery particles evaporate, leaving the 
rasin-like grape with its un dissipated saccharine 

In order to make " Essenz," these dry grapes are 
separated from the rest, placed in tubs with holes 
perforated at the bottom. The juice is allowed to 
squeeze out by the mere weight of the fruit into a 
vessel placed beneath. After several years' keeping 
this liquid becomes a drinkable wine, but of course 
it is always very costly. This is really only a 
liqueur. The wine locally called "Ausbruch" is 
the more generally known sweet Tokay, a delicious 
wine, but also very expensive. It is said to possess 
wonderfully restorative properties in sickness and 
in advanced age. 

Another quality, differently treated, but of the 
same vintage, is called " Szamarodni," now known 
in the English market as " dry Tokay." This dry 
wine preserves the bouquet and strength of the 
ordinary Tokay, but it is absolutely without any 
appreciable "sweetness." In order to produce 
Szamarodni the dry grapes must not be separated 
from the others. The proportion of alcohol is from 
twelve to fifteen per cent. 

When first I saw the vintage in the Tokay district, 



I was greatly interested in the novelty of the whole 
scene. It is well worth the stranger's while to turn 
aside from the beaten track and join for once in 
this characteristic Hungarian festivity, for nowhere 
is the Magyar more at home than in the vine- 
growing Hegyalia. 










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DB Crosse, Andrew F. 

726 Round about the Carpathians